Moonlight Winner Mahershalalhashbaz “Mahershala” Ali (born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore; February 16, 1974) is an American actor. Ali began his career as a regular on series such as Crossing Jordan and Threat Matrix before his breakthrough role as Richard Tyler in the science-fiction series The 4400. His first major film release was in the 2008 David Fincher-directed romantic fantasy drama film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. His other notable films include Predators, The Place Beyond the Pines, Free State of Jones and as Boggs in The Hunger Games series. Ali is also known for his television roles as Remy Danton in House of Cards and Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes in Netflix’s TV series Luke Cage.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Barry.
I — I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when we’re persecuted. They fold into themselves. And what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community, and taking that opportunity to uplift him and tell him that he mattered, that he was okay, and accept him. And I hope that we do a better job.
You know, when we kind of get caught up in the minutia, the details that make us all different. I think there’s two ways of seeing that. There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique. And then there’s an opportunity to going a war — to go to war about it, to say that that person is different from me. I don’t like you, so let’s battle.
My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, we put things to the side, and I was able to — I’m able to see her. She’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown, and that stuff is minutia. It’s not that important.
So I want to — I want to thank Tarell Alvin McCraney for his courage. I want to thank Barry Jenkins. Just — just for your insight your brilliance and your direction and just the collaboration, that opportunity. I will always hold that close to me. I want to thank the — my fellow castmates who — any one of those young men could be up here holding this. I tell you. It’s beautiful work.
So Plan B, A24, thank you. Peace and blessings be upon you.
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