British actor Riz Ahmed, known for his recent role as Bodhi Rook in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” fears a lack of diversity in the entertainment industry is going to lead young adults to join the Islamic State.
Ahmed, speaking this week to the British Parliament about the issue, said the United Kingdom’s diversity problem in movies and television could cause people to “retreat to fringe narratives, to bubbles online and sometimes even off to Syria,” according to The Guardian.
“If we fail to represent, we are in danger of losing people to extremism,” he said. “In the mind of the ISIS recruit, he’s the next James Bond, right? Have you seen some of those ISIS propaganda videos? They are cut like action movies.”
“Where is the counternarrative?” he asked. “Where are we telling these kids they can be heroes in our stories, that they’re valued?”
“If we don’t step up and tell a representative story … we are going to start losing British teenagers to the story that the next chapter in their lives is written with ISIS in Syria,” he told Parliament.
In 2015, a handful of major British television stations — BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Sky — launched the Diamond Project, The Guardian reported, to monitor diversity across all broadcasters. And in September, Sharon White, the CEO of the United Kingdom’s Office of Communications, commonly known as Ofcom, said that broadcasters are not doing a “good enough job” to increase diversity and announced that the agency would “look at enforcements” if the issue isn’t resolved.
“I’m personally interested in harder diversity targets,” she said during a 2015 address at the Royal Television Society London conference. She said that Ofcom is looking into “quotas or harder targets” as a way to regulate diversity.