Scholarships for young Muslim artists to be decided by the committee include actors Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef.
British actor Riz Ahmed has started an effort to improve the way Muslims are portrayed in films after a study showed that they are barely seen and shown in a negative light when they appear.
Ahmed, the Sound of Metal star and the first Muslim to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, said Thursday that the Plan for Muslim Inclusion will include funding and mentoring for Muslim narrators in the early stages of his career.
“The representation of Muslims on the screen feeds the policies that are being put in place, the people that are being killed, the countries that are being invaded,” Ahmed said in a statement.
“The data don’t lie. This study shows us the scale of the problem in popular film, and its cost is measured in lost potential and lost life,” he added.
Titled Missing and Maligned, the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study found that less than 10 per cent of the biggest films released from 2017-2019 by the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand featured at least a Muslim-speaking character.
When they did, they were shown as strangers, or threatening, or servants, the study showed. About a third of the Muslim characters were perpetrators of violence and more than half were targets of violence.
“Muslims live all over the world, but the film audience only sees a close-up picture of this community, rather than seeing Muslims as they are: entrepreneurs, friends and neighbors whose presence is part of modern life,” he said. Al-Baab Khan, one of the authors of the report.
Ahmed, 38, born in London to Pakistani parents, said he would offer funding to change the game to get more Muslim actors, writers and producers into film and television business.
“If I hadn’t received a scholarship and even a private donation, I wouldn’t have been able to attend drama school,” he said.
Scholarships of $ 25,000 for young Muslim artists will be decided by an advisory committee that includes actors Mahershala Ali and Ramy Youssef, and comedian Hasan Minhaj.