Mahershala Ali took home tonight’s SAG Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role” for his work in Moonlight, but it’s his acceptance speech that had Twitter weeping. The talented actor discussed his role in the film, using it as an opportunity to connect it with today’s volatile political climate.
“What I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is you see what happens when you persecute people: they fold into themselves,” an emotion Ali stated. “What I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentlemen 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’s OK and accept him and I hope that we do a better job of that,” he continued to a rapturous applause.
The actor then used his closing moments to recount his decision to convert to Islam some 17 years ago. “My mother is an ordained [Christian] minister, I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her that I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, we put things to side and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other and the love has grown. The other stuff is minutiae, it’s not that important.”
Reaction on Twitter to Ali’s anecdote was all positive, particularly in the face of the partial-Muslim ban put in place by the Trump administration this weekend. Check out some of the tweets blow regarding the actor’s moving speech.
— Elizabeth Vogt (@elizvogt) January 30, 2017
Glad to see that #MahershalaAli isn't just another pretty face. Beautiful heart, too.
— 🚗 swiftly (@Driveswift) January 30, 2017
Mahershala Ali was spectacular in Moonlight, and that SAG acceptance speech? good lord. give him that Oscar.
— lyd (@lydiacantdance) January 30, 2017
SAG awards were incredible this year pls watch them and if u don't have time to watch the whole thing watch Mahershala Ali's speech
— mars rov (@marlenaresnick) January 30, 2017