In Green Book, Ali portrayed Don Shirley, a classical and jazz pianist who had to combat the rampant racism of the south in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s his second Oscar, after also winning Best Supporting Actor for his memorable role as a drug dealer in Moonlight (2016).
“I want to thank Dr. Shirley. Trying to capture Dr. Shirley’s essence pushed me to my ends, which is a reflection of the person he was and the life that he lived,” Ali began in his acceptance speech. The is his second award for the role, earning a Golden Globe this year. But it’s also sure to be a controversial win: Shirley’s family said the film was inaccurate, and critics thought Shirley deserved a bigger role in the film. Ali personally apologized to the family, and also addressed the backlash after his Golden Globes acceptance speech.
At Sunday’s Oscars, Ali also thanked co-star Viggo Mortenson, director Peter Fairley for “giving [the cast] space to work it out,” and executive producer Octavia Spencer. He dedicated the award to his grandmother.
“I want to dedicate this to my grandmother, who has been in my ear my entire life. Telling me that if at first I don’t succeed, try try again, that I can do anything I put my mind to,” Ali said. “Always, always pushing me to think positively. I know I wouldn’t be here without her, that she’s gotten me over the hump every step of the way.”
Watch Mahershala Ali’s acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor for Green Book below.
Mahershala Ali gives an acceptance speech for his second Best Supporting Actor award.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 25, 2019