Riz Ahmed and Issa Rae presented Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. From the moment they walked on to the Emmy stage, side by side, looking goddamn impeccable, I was imagining the life I want them to live together. Most people were tweet-wishing for Issa and Riz to star in a rom-com. That is not enough for me. I would like them to be life partners and to procreate. For the culture. If you watched Insecure season two (if you didn’t, how much longer must we yell at you?), you know the Lawrence/Issa flash-forward sequence that ripped our hearts out, stomped on them and threw them against that stained wall in Issa’s apartment? Now picture those scenes but it’s Issa and Riz getting their happily ever after.
In my imaginary alternate universe, Issa Rae and Riz Ahmed have two children, a girl and a boy, named Issa Jr. and Riz Jr. because you can’t improve on perfect names like Issa and Riz. They rap nursery rhymes to their little ones because they are both incredibly gifted MCs. Before they leave for the Emmys, Riz Jr. tells his mommy that it’s OK that the Emmys robbed her of a nomination. Riz Sr. kisses his wife on the forehead and says the same thing. They share an intimate moment of respect and admiration for each other’s crafts. Issa Jr. asks her dad to promise to thank her in his acceptance speech if he wins. He promises, thinking to himself there is no way he will win because men who look like him never win. Issa and Riz tell the kids not to stay up too late and they leave. On the red carpet, they put Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban to shame with their classy PDA. When they get home later, high on a night beyond their wildest dreams, they wake up the kids, even though they shouldn’t, and rap them to sleep with a nursery rhyme about how their dreams can come true, whatever they choose to put their minds to.
CAN YOU TELL I’M ALREADY WAY TOO INVESTED IN THESE TWO? OK. I’m done. Thank you for indulging me. Fan fiction aside, Riz Ahmed was one of last night’s many firsts. He took home the award for lead actor in a limited series or movie for The Night Of. He gave a lovely speech (that voice, swoon!) thanking his costar John Turturro and the late James Gandolfini before shouting out South Asian Youth Action and The Innocence Project and delivering this short, sweet, powerful statement:
“I want to say it is always strange reaping the rewards of a story based on real-world suffering, but if this show has shone a light on some of the prejudice in our societies, islamophobia, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that is something.”
Riz Ahmed is the first South Asian actor to win an acting Emmy. Ever. Riz has been vocal in the past about the portrayal of South Asian men, specifically Muslims, on television. This win is massive. The Emmys couldn’t stop jerking itself off for inclusion and diversity last night and Riz’s win could be a signal of change… or he may just be the exception to the rule. He may be the first of many more South Asian actors to be recognized by the Emmys but how long will it be before someone else of South Asian descent takes home this award?
His imaginary wife Issa has been a part of many firsts in her career and while she may not have been nominated last night, she talked about her latest honour on the E! Red Carpet in a breathtaking, custom-made Vera Wang. Issa Rae is the new face of Cover Girl. Speaking to Guliana Rancic, Issa said, “If awkward black girls can be Cover Girls then anybody can be.” I gave her a standing ovation in my living room. And in my favourite Issa red carpet moment of the night, this was her response when she was asked which actors she was rooting for:
God, I love her. She’s right though. I was rooting for every black person and person of colour up for awards last night. Because inclusion matters. Because being the first is the first step to more, which is the next step to equality. Every South Asian kid who screamed at their TV when Riz won now has the permission to believe that they could be next. Every awkward black girl who sees Issa as the face of Cover Girl knows she’s beautiful and worthy.
Have I convinced you yet that this couple belongs together? FOR THE CULTURE.
Watch Riz’s full speech below and soak in the magnificence of Issa’s whole look.