Ali speaks out against persecution and intolerance as he collects his Best Supporting Actor award.
Moonlight actor Mahershala Ali gave a moving speech at last night’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, urging people not to focus on the “minutiae” of what makes them different.
Ali won the Best Supporting Actor prize for his performance as Juan in the acclaimed film about a young man getting to grips with his sexuality, which opens in UK cinemas on February 17.
“I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight, is we see what happens when we persecute people,” Ali told the crowd. “They fold into themselves. And what I was 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, and that he was OK, and accept him.”
He continued: “And I hope that we do a better job at that. When we get caught up in the minutiae, 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 the opportunity to go to war about it. And to say, ‘that’s person’s different from me, and I don’t like you. So let’s battle.'”
Ali then added: “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, you put things to the side. And I’m able to see her, and she’s able to see me. We love each other, the love has grown. And that stuff is minutiae, it’s not that important.”
Watch his full speech below.
Stranger Things actor David Harbour also delivered a powerful speech at the SAG Awards as many prominent figures from the world of music and entertainment speak out against Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban.
On Friday (January 27), the President signed an order putting a four-month hold on allowing anyone into the United States who is from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia and Libya. Even those holding valid green cards and visas issued by the US or who have dual citizenship with another country not on the list will not be allowed entry to the country under Trump’s new rule.
Grimes and Sia have both pledged to match donations to organisations who are fighting Trump’s immigration ban. Meanwhile, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong has called Trump’s actions in his first week as President “an all out assault on civil liberties”.
It has since emerged that while protests were taking place at airports across the US, Trump was watching Finding Dory at The White House.