The British actor took home the statue for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie at the 69th Annual Emmy Awards on Sunday.
“If this show has [shined] a light on some of the prejudice in our society, Islamophobia, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that’s something,” he said during his acceptance speech. The actor then credited the organizations South Asian Youth Action and The Innocence Project for helping him prepare for the role.
At at time when actors of South Asian descent are still being asked to play characters with stereotypical accents, Ahmed’s Emmy win is also a victory for varied on-screen representation — which leads to a more diverse nominee list come awards season. It was just last year when Aziz Ansari became the first actor of South Asian descent to be nominated for a lead acting Emmy.
With his win, Ahmed bested fellow actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert De Niro, Ewan McGregor, Geoffrey Rush and his “Night Of” co-star John Turturro.
Ahmed was nominated twice this year for both his starring role on the 2016 HBO limited series, for which he played a wide-eyed student accused of murder, and his turn as a love interest for Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath on the final season of HBO’s “Girls.”
When the British actor, who was a favorite to win among insiders, found out he was nominated for two Emmys, he expressed his excitement with a throwback video of himself at 6 years old, doing an impression of Prince Charles at a birthday party. He captioned the video, “tbh I think my best work ever.”