While some will maintain Mahershala Ali was robbed of his Golden Globe award, the Moonlight star rebounded victoriously Sunday night (Jan. 29) when he took home the Screen Actor’s Guild award for his role as Juan in the Barry Jenkins directed film. Taking cue from Meryl Streep, the 42-year-old actor used his acceptance speech to speak about the cultural climate in the nation amidst the Muslim ban.
“I think what I learned from working on Moonlight is you see what happens when you persecute people. They fold into themselves,” Ali said. “And what I was so grateful about when I had the opportunity to play Juan, is playing a gentlemen who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community, and taking that opportunity to tell him that he mattered, and that he was okay.”
As Ali’s voice began to tremble and his eyes began to water, the actor who also took home an award for his role in, spoke of what happens when we’re no longer tolerant of people’s difference.
“You know, when we kind of get caught up in the minutiae, the details that make us all different, I think there are 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 an opportunity to go to war and say that the person is 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 I had converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, we put things to the side. I’m able to see her, she’s able to see me. We love each other and the love has grown and all the other stuff is minutiae.”
Watch the remainder of Ali’s tender and touching speech below.