Actor Riz Ahmed poses in the press room at the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic
By Ellen McGirt
Updated: June 5, 2018 11:57 AM ET

I’m headed down to Washington, D.C. to the Nielsen Consumer 360 conference, tagline: Confronting What’s Next.

In my case, what’s next will be a short on-stage conversation with Riz Ahmed, the British Pakistani actor, rapper and activist who will share his insights on representation in the entertainment industry and why it matters.

You may know (and love) him from his star turn as pilot Bodhi Rook in Rogue One, and for his Emmy-award winning performance in HBO’s The Night Of, but he’s got a serious take on diversity and inclusion – and what it’s like to break the “terrorist” stereotype at work but not at the airport– that should not be missed.

Last year, he delivered an annual lecture on diversity to Parliament, sponsored by the U.K.’s Channel 4, in which he shares his personal story, presses for support for the arts, and recommends busting unconscious bias by using public money to incentivize representation quotas in business and government.

He also draws a bright line between the lack of representation in front of and behind the camera and national security:

If we don’t step up and tell a representative story, we are going to start losing people. We are going to start losing people to other stories. We are going to start losing British teenagers to the story that the next chapter in their lives is written with Isis in Syria. We are going to see the murder of more MPs like Jo Cox because we’ve been mis-sold a story that is so narrow about who we are and who we should be.

In the mind of the Isis recruit, he’s the next James Bond right? Have you seen some of those Isis propaganda videos, they are cut like action movies. Where is the counter narrative? Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories, that they valued?

Should be an important conversation. Want something you’d like me to ask him? Hit me back on email, Twitter or LinkedIn, and I’ll see what I can do.


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