Mahershala Ali: 'We See What Happens When We Persecute People' | Sojourners

Mahershala Ali: 'We See What Happens When We Persecute People'

Screenshot, Screen Actors Guild Awards/Facebook

On Jan. 29, Mahershala Ali received the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, for his role as Juan in the critically acclaimed film Moonlight. In his moving acceptance speech, Ali spoke of seeking unity in the face of difference.

“I think what I’ve learned from Moonlight is we see what happens when we persecute people. They fold into themselves. And what I was so grateful 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 the 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 of that.”

Ali went on to speak of his Muslim faith, his mother’s Christian faith, and how their religious difference hasn't ruined their relationship.

“My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted seventeen years ago. But I tell you now, you put things to the side…I’m able to see her, she’s able to see me, we love each other, the love has grown, and that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”