Riz Ahmed is a rapper and award-winning actor set to star in the upcoming film "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." But his celebrity isn't enough to insulate him from being racially profiled at the airport.
“I mean my day-to-day reality is as contradictory as ever. Every time I get on the plane, I get searched," the 34-year-old told The Guardian.
"The last time I came back from LA, I got fully searched and all of that. That’s as usual. Then the second search. But this time, I got on the plane and I picked up the inflight magazine. And I was on the cover. I was already on the plane.”
— Gentleman's Journal (@thegentsjournal) November 11, 2016
In September, the British-Pakistani actor penned a piece for the newspaper titled "Typecast as a Terrorist."
He talked about his experiences being pigeonholed for roles, both at auditions and in civilian life:
"... the holding pen was filled with 20 slight variations of my own face, all staring at me – kind of like a Bollywood remake of 'Being John Malkovich.' It was a reminder: you are a type, whose face says things before your mouth opens; you are a signifier before you are a person; you are back at stage one."
Ahmed wrote in a recent Instagram post that his growing fame has developed into an odd situation: often young fans from Asian neighbourhoods near London's Heathrow Airport often want his autograph after patting him down.
I have been "randomly searched" on every flight to the US in the last 16 years. Here's what I wanted to say in all those interrogations at 'immigration protocol', in our new Swet Shop Boys track T5 (listen or pre-order album here : http://www.smarturl.it/ssb-cashmere ) - one new weird development on this depressing ritual is that these days the kids who work at London's Heathrow Airport (often from nearby Asian neighbourhoods of Hounslow and Southall) recognise me, and so now I sometimes get searched by my fans who want selfies after frisking me. 😂Such a surreal circus.
After his memorable role as a terrified videographer in 2014's "Nightcrawler," Ahmed received critical acclaim for his role in the HBO miniseries "The Night Of." He is set to star in upcoming detective flick "City of Tiny Lights."
On his most recent album "Cashmere," he tackles racial profiling on two tracks, breathing witty commentary into the discriminatory practice.
However, he says the album is more about reaching out to misfits than it is about politics.
“I just want to fly the flag for everyone who feels like they don’t necessarily fit in," Ahmed told The Wall Street Journal.