Riz Ahmed is a remarkable actor who, at just 36, has already produced an astonishing body of work including films such as Four Lions and Nightcrawler, television shows like The Night Of and school plays alongside this writer including an immortal 1997 production of Lord of the Flies.
One inspiring aspect about the rise of Ahmed has been his willingness to use his platform to shine a light on significant issues rather than offering the kind of banal platitudes all too common within the entertainment industry.
On The Lateish Show with Mo Gilligan, the actor perfectly explained the difference between diversity and representation by using a metaphor involving a burger and chips. He started:
I gave a talk in parliament about representation in general, because you know sometimes people use the word 'diversity' - I hate that word, you know?
It feels like you've got the main thing going on here, you've got, like, a burger. And diversity's the thing on the side - it's the chips.
I prefer to use the word 'representation', because what we expect from our culture, from our stories, from our politics, is to be represented.
I don't want to hear any talk about diversity. It's about representation and it's about how we're represented out there.
He went on to rightly observe that the success of a film like Crazy Rich Asians benefits everyone and not just the community it depicts, saying:
I just think it's important we all realise this isn't just a Muslim issue or a black issue. If Crazy Rich Asians does well, for example, that's not just a win for Asian people.
That's a win for all of us because every time something like that happens, it stretches culture a little bit and it gives us all a little bit more space to be ourselves.
Diversity has negative connotations, representation is much closer to the truth. It’s so refreshing to have someone in the public eye willing to talk through such distinctions with wit and intelligence. And, as an added bonus, the host throws in a “your mum” for good measure.
Needless to say, fans on the internet loved what the actor had to say.