Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim man to win an Oscar when he claimed Best Supporting Actor for his role in the award-winning picture Moonlight.
Ali, who converted to Islam in 1999, was clearly overwhelmed with emotion when he was handed his award by last year’s Supporting Actress Winner Alicia Vikander.
“I had so many wonderful teachers [growing up], and one thing that they consistently told me was it wasn’t about you, it’s not about you,” he said in his speech after revealing that he became a father just four days prior to the awards ceremony.
“It’s about these characters. You’re in service to these stories and these characters. And I’m so blessed to have had an opportunity [to do that].”
With tension in the States at boiling point due to President Donald Trump’s unwavering and stringent policy on immigration and the POTUS’ take on Islam, Ali’s victory comes as a timely reminder to those suffering from discrimination.
“If you convert to Islam after a couple of decades of being a black man in the US, the discrimination you receive as a Muslim doesn’t feel like a shock,” he told the Radio Times.
“I’ve been pulled over, asked where my gun is, asked if I’m a pimp, had my car pulled apart. Muslims will feel like there’s this new discrimination that they hadn’t received before – but it’s not new for us.”