Mahershala Ali: The First Muslim Actor To Win An Oscar.

  • Mahershala Ali wins his first Oscar.
  • Moonlight takes best picture award.

Mahershala_Ali on Sunday 26th February 2017 made history by becoming the first Muslim Actor to win an Oscar during the 89th Academy awards. A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight_(2016_film) chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami. Ali was born in 1974, in Oakland, California, son of Willicia and Phillip Gilmore. He was raised in Hayward, California. In a time where there is a lot of controversy about Islam as a religion and Islam phobia in the USA, this win came at a pivotal time to make the world pay attention to the day to day struggles of not just a black man, but a Muslim Black man in Hollywood.

Mahershala Ali with the other winners of the night.

In an expected but triumphant win for Best Actor in a Supporting Role during the 89th Academy Awards,  Mahershala Ali  gave a humble speech, thanking those in his life who helped him achieve such a deserved feat.

“I want to thank my teachers, my professors; one thing they consistently told me was that it wasn’t about you. It’s not about you, it’s about these characters, and you are a servant. You’re in service to these stories and these characters.” He went on to thank “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins and the film’s cast and crew. He also nodded to his wife and daughter, who was born four days ago.“I want to thank her for being such a soldier through this process, and carrying me through it all,” he said, in an elegant kickoff to the night.

Mahershala Ali giving his acceptance speech.

Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, a particularly notable achievement in 2017, when the White House has  placed travel restrictions on individuals from several Muslim-majority nations. This win also makes Ali the fifth black actor to achieve a Supporting Actor Oscar.  Moonlight went on to win best picture after La La Land being announced in a mix up by the presenters of the night. For Ali, this marks the turning point in his life and also the beginning of a bigger and better chapter in his life.


Mahershalalhashbaz “Mahershala” Ali born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore on February 16. He is named after Maher-shalal-hash-baz, a biblical prophetic-name child. Raised Christian by his mother, an ordained minister, he later converted to Islam, changing his surname from Gilmore to Ali, and joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. His father appeared on Broadway He attended St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, where he graduated in 1996 with a degree in mass communication.

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 romanticfantasy drama film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and his other notable films include PredatorsThe Place Beyond the PinesFree State of JonesHidden 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.


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