Mahershala Ali: First Muslim to Win an Oscar


Lily Merritt, Opinion Editor

“I just feel blessed,” actor and now first-ever Muslim to win an Oscar, Mahershala Ali, said to The New York Times after Sunday night’s Oscars. Ali won the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in “Moonlight”, where he portrays a Miami drug dealer and guardian of  a struggling teen. After 15 years of acting, Ali’s perseverance and hard work in Hollywood has finally paid off. While accepting his honor, Ali made no mention of his religion, but simply spoke of acting as, “You are a servant. You’re in service to these stories and these characters.”

In his acceptance speech at the Screen Actors Guild Award, Ali voiced, “I think what I’ve learned from working on ‘Moonlight’ is we see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves. And what I was so 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.”

With our country living in a current state of widespread Xenophobia and Islamophobia, Ali’s recognition makes this a tremendous win for the Muslim community around the world.