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Riz Ahmed makes Oscar history as first Muslim Best Actor nominee

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Riz Ahmed is making Oscar history.

The 38-year-old actor scored an Academy Award nomination Monday morning for his role in Sound of Metal, becoming the first Muslim to be nominated in the Oscars Best Actor category.

Ahmed previously broke barriers at the Emmys in 2017, when he won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series for The Night Of and became the first Muslim actor and first Asian actor to win in a lead acting category.

Mahershala Ali previously became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, winning in the Best Supporting Actor category for Moonlight in 2017 and for Green Book in 2019.

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Ahmed stars in Sound of Metal as Ruben, a punk drummer and recovering addict who loses his hearing. Darius Marder's drama first premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, and the role required Ahmed to spend weeks practicing his drumming and learning American Sign Language. Ahmed has since earned raves for his performance, scoring nominations at the Golden Globes, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

"It's been a really long journey for this movie — and even longer for [director] Darius Marder, who started working on this movie 13 years ago," Ahmed previously told EW. "It's something that has been so close to his heart, and so close to all our hearts who worked on this — kind of like a little family that formed over this intense, low-budget shoot that took place against the odds. It's one of those crazy stories where you don't know if anyone will see this or how it will all turn out — but it did in this incredible way that people seem to be connecting with."

Ahmed, who's British of Pakistani descent, also joins Steven Yeun as the first Asians to be nominated in the Best Actor category.

See the full list of this year's Oscar nominations here.

The winners will be announced at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, April 25. It will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Check out more from EW's The Awardist, featuring exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best films.

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