Challenging Meryl Streep for best speech of the season, Mahershala Ali delivered passionate words about his Muslim faith at Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. Winning for his performance in “Moonlight,” Ali spoke of the need to avoid persecuting those who are different, a timely topic given Donald Trump’s recent executive order banning Muslims and Syrian refugees from entering America.
“My mother is an ordained minister,” Ali said. “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.”
Watch Ali’s full speech below. You won’t regret it.
Here’s the full transcript:
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 and taking that opportunity to uplift him and to tell him he mattered, that he was OK, and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.
We kind of get caught up in the minutia and 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 that person is different than me and I don’t like you, so let’s battle.
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 minutia. It’s not that important.
I’m going to thank Tarell Alvin McCraney for his courage. I’m going to thank Barry Jenkins just for your insight, your brilliance and your direction, and just the collaboration, that opportunity, I’ll always hold that close to me. I want to thank my fellow cast mates. Any one of those young men could be up here holding this, I’m telling you. It’s beautiful work. Plan B, A24, thank you. Peace and blessings be upon you.