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Riz Ahmed Is Starring In This U.K. Political Ad Because “Blacks Don’t Vote”

The Rogue One and HBO star is part of a new campaign to raise awareness around boosting voter turnout in the U.K. among minority communities.

Riz Ahmed Is Starring In This U.K. Political Ad Because “Blacks Don’t Vote”

Riz Ahmed has had a busy couple of years, first gaining pop culture and critical attention in HBO’s acclaimed The Night Of, then in the hit Star Wars prequel, Rogue One. But in a new PSA campaign, the actor says this might be his most important role yet because it aims to impact the real lives of ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap general election for June 8, so the group Operation Black Vote and ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi London are hoping to get the word out as widely as possible. “Black Don’t Vote” is a stark title–by “black,” the campaign is referring to ethnic minorities of all backgrounds in the U.K. But according to Operation Black Vote, so are the statistics. The campaign says 1.4 million potential votes were not used by what they call black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals, 28% of BME’s are not registered to vote (compared to 6% of white people), and among BMEs of African descent, that is closer to 50%.

Grime artist Jamal Edwards also stars in another PSA for the campaign. Both Edwards and Ahmed, who’s also no stranger to hip-hop as half of the politically charged Swet Shop Boys with Heems (Das Racist), lay out statistics and reasoning for boosting voter turnout to affect issues and decisions that impact BME communities.

UPDATE: The videos for this campaign have been removed from both YouTube and the Operation Black Vote website. I’ve reached out to the agency Saatchi & Saatchi London to find out why, but have yet to get a reply. To see the videos, they’re still available on AdAge’s Creativity.

UPDATE 2: A spokesperson for Saatchi & Saatchi London says the campaign only had an arrangement with Ahmed and Edwards for the videos to be up until early morning on May 23rd, as they were to promote UK voter registration, which ended at midnight last night. However, they are planning a follow up to the campaign, moving beyond voter registration to encourage voting itself in the general election.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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