Mahershala Ali becomes first Muslim actor in history to win an Academy Award
Mahershala Ali on February 26 took home the first Oscar ever won by a Muslim.
His role as Juan in Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” landed him the award for the best supporting actor trophy.
He spoke movingly of his faith while accepting the SAG award for supporting actor for “Moonlight” last month.
“My grandma would want me to button up. I want to thank my teachers, my professors, my so many wonderful teachers.
“It’s not about you. It’s about these characters. You are a servant. You’re in service to these stories and these characters and I’m so blessed to have had an opportunity. It was about Juan, it was about Paula. Cast and crew, such a wonderful experience,” Ali said after taking the stage.
Who is Mahershala Ali
Born born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore on February 16, 1974, Mahershala Ali is an Academy Award winning American actor, the first Muslim to win a trophy at the World prestigious Oscars.
Before his breakthrough role as Richard Tyler in The 4400, Ali has appeared in tv series like Crossing Jordan and Threat Matrix.
Ali’s first major film romantic was released in the 2008, which was directed by David Fincher.
Other movies he took part include: drama film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Predators, The Place Beyond the Pines, Free State of Jones, Hidden Figures and as Boggs in The Hunger Games series.
Ali is also known for his roles in the Netflix series House of Cards as Remy Danton and as Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes in Luke Cage.
For his performance as mentor and drug dealer Juan in Moonlight (2016), Ali received universal acclaim from critics and won the Academy Award, the SAG Award and the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award.
His win at the 89th Academy Awards made him the first Muslim to win an Oscar for acting.
Ali was born in 1974, in Oakland, California, and was raised in Hayward, California. He is named after Maher-shalal-hash-baz, a biblical prophetic-name child.
Raised Christian by his mother, Willicia, an ordained minister, he later converted to Qadiyanism, changing his surname from Gilmore to Ali, and joined the Qadiyani community.
His father appeared on Broadway.
He attended St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, where Ali graduated in 1996 with a degree in mass communication.
Though Ali entered SMC with a basketball scholarship, he became disenchanted with the idea of a sports career because of the treatment given to the team’s athletes. Ali developed an interest in acting, particularly after taking part in a staging of Spunk that later landed him an apprenticeship at the California Shakespeare Theater following graduation. Following a sabbatical year where Ali worked for Gavin Report, he enrolled in New York University’s graduate acting program, earning his master’s degree in 2000.
Ali is a Qadiyani and a member of the Qadiyani Community. He is married to Amatus Sami-Karim. He named his cat Nas, after the musician. On February 22, 2017, he and his wife welcomed their first child, a daughter named Bari Najma.