Watch Mahershala Ali Address Trump’s Muslim Ban in Emotional SAG Awards Acceptance Speech
Between starring in Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Luke Cage, 2016 was Mahershala Ali’s breakout year. Last night, he took home a Screen Actors Guild trophy for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, for his emotional turn as the drug dealer Juan in Moonlight.
Ali used his moment to succinctly and passionately to discuss a theme that runs through Moonlight, Donald Trump’s Draconian Muslim ban, and Ali’s own relationship with his mother: The need for acceptance. Holding back tears, Ali—who’s Muslim—spoke about his relationship with his mother, a Christian minister.
“She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago,” Ali said. “But I tell you now, you put things to the side, and I’m able to see her, she’s able to see me. We’re able to love each other, the love has grown, and that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”
Ali also spoke about his own learning experience while shooting Moonlight, which is in the running for Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards. “What I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan,” Ali continued, “was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community. And taking the opportunity to uplift him and tell him that he mattered. That he was OK and accept him. I hope we do a better job of that.”
Watch the speech in full below. Ali and the Hidden Figures crew also took a SAG for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
— SAG Awards® (@SAGawards) January 30, 2017