Ahmed said he’s sharing the award with costar John Turturro, whom he was up against in the category, and thanked the late James Gandolfini.
“I’m indebted to many people,” he said, listing Steve Zaillian, the show’s creator, director and executive producer, and writer Richard Price, among others.
“I want to say it is always strange reaping the rewards of a story based on real-world suffering, but if this show has shown a light on some of the prejudice in our societies, some of the injustice in our justice system, then maybe that is something,” he said.
The actor also gave a shout-out to South Asian Youth Action.
Ahmed has had quite the year. The rapper/actor was nominated not only for his work as Nasir “Naz” Khan, a young man accused of murder in the HBO limited series, but also for guest work on the final season of “Girls” as Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) surf instructor-turned-baby daddy.
Ahmed, who was up for the Golden Globe earlier this year for the same role, but lost then to Tom Hiddleston of “The Night Manager,” beat out a large talent pool in the category that included his own “The Night Of” co-star Turturro. The plurality method of voting didn’t split the votes here, allowing Ahmed to come away with the gold.
Ahmed was also up against Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock: The Lying Detective”), Robert De Niro (“The Wizard of Lies”), Ewan McGregor (“Fargo”), and Geoffrey Rush (“Genius).