Mahershala Ali is the first Muslim actor in history to win an Academy Award, securing the best supporting actor trophy for his role as Juan in Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight", in which he takes the role of a Miami drug dealer who mentors a young boy who is being teased and bullied. He wasn’t hesitant to talk openly about his religious faith being an orthodox Muslim.
This win also makes Ali the fifth black actor to achieve a Supporting Actor Oscar.
"My grandma would want me to button up," he said, after taking the stage, buttoning up his jacket. "I want to thank my teachers, my professors, my so many wonderful teachers." He went on to talk about what they taught him and realizing that this moment wasn't about him. "It's not about you. It's about these characters. You are a servant. You're in service to these stories and these characters and I'm so blessed to have had an opportunity. It was about Juan, it was about Paula. Cast and crew, such a wonderful experience."
Ali had converted to Islam 17 years ago. It has been a breakout year for Ali, who starred on the Netflix series "Luke Cage" and also had a role in another Oscar-nominated film, "Hidden Figures."