For nearly seven decades, a South Asian man had never won an Emmy in an acting category. That changed Sunday night with Riz Ahmed, a British-Pakistani actor, winning an Emmy award for outstanding lead actor in a limited series or movie for his role in HBO’s “The Night Of.”
Before him, only one other South Asian star had taken home an acting award from the ceremony — Archie Panjabi, who won an Emmy for her role in “The Good Wife” in 2010.
Ahmed’s win was seen as a long-overdue victory for South Asians and his fellow Muslims. His success was significant not only because of his historic win but because of the character he portrayed. Naz, a nuanced, relatable college student from Queens — who also happens to be Pakistani. While “The Night Of” tackles issues of race and Islamophobia, Naz’s ethnicity and religion are secondary to the story’s main plot.