Riz Ahmed, known for his leading roles in films Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Venom, has spoken out against US Homeland Security officials for stopping him from boarding a flight, accusing them of partaking in racial profiling. The British-Pakistani actor was set to appear at the Star Wars Celebration convention, a fan gathering held to celebrate the incredibly popular franchise that was taking place in Chicago, but had to miss the entire event due to said officials barring him from his scheduled flight.
The incident took place back in April and the convention had taken to their official Twitter account to announce that Riz would not be making an appearance. However, the true reason as to why he couldn’t turn up has only now been exposed.
#StarWarsCelebration Update: We're so sorry to announce that due to circumstances beyond his control, Riz Ahmed will be canceling his full appearance. Attendees can use their current Riz Ahmed tickets to exchange at the Topps Help Desk throughout the weekend.— StarWars Celebration (@SW_Celebration) April 12, 2019
During a panel at the CAA Amplify leadership summit in Ojai, Riz broke the story. He reveals that he was pulled aside for questioning at an undisclosed US airport and that this is not a first time incident for the actor, in spite of his rise in fame in recent years. Speaking on the wider issue of discrimination against Muslims, Riz said “It’s scary to be a Muslim right now, super-scary.”
Riz portrayed the character of Bodhi Rook in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, an instalment in the iconic Star Wars franchise. Along with his performance as Carlton Drake in the super hero film Venom, Riz became well-known as one of the few successful South Asian actors in mainstream Hollywood. He also took home the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his performance in the miniseries The Night Of, making him the first actor of Asian descent to win an acting award at the Emmys.
This is not the first time that well-established actors of South Asian descent have had to deal with racial profiling in American airports. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was famously detained, in his own words, by US authorities at Los Angeles Airport in 2016. The incident generated a ton of buzz as the general public were surprised and outraged that even a person as famous as Shah Rukh could be racially profiled.