Watch Mahershala Ali's moving SAG Awards speech: 'I am a Muslim'

Ali won Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Barry Jenkins' stirring Moonlight

Clarisse Loughrey
Monday 30 January 2017 10:20
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Mahershala Ali's moving SAG Awards speech: 'I am a Muslim'

The 23rd annual SAG Awards proved just one of the many ways art can be utilised as a platform for protest, with almost every winner utilising their time on stage to speak up about Donald Trump's abhorrent Muslim ban.

From David Harbour's rousing speech on behalf of the Stranger Things cast, to Emma Stone's emotional response to winning Best Actress; perhaps, the most moving speech of the entire evening belonged to Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali, who won for his performance in Barry Jenkins' stirring Moonlight.

"I think what I've learned from working on Moonlight, is we see what happens when we persecute people," Ali opened with. "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. 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.'"

"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."


Trump has ordered a four-month ban on all refugees from entering the country as well as enacting an indefinite ban on all those who hail from Syria. For 90 days, visas will not be issued to nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

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