Moonlight actor Mahershala Ali won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Supporting Actor. His acceptance speech deserved an award as well.
Ali took most of his two minutes on stage to ask America to “do a better job” at accepting people who are different from them. His role as “Juan” was an unlikely saint who sold drugs, but helped a young boy who had questions about his sexuality learn to at least try and accept himself.
He drew parallels between the young boy, “Little” as he is referred to in the movie, and people who get persecuted for sticking out in their own communities.
“What I learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when we 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 tell him he mattered, that he was okay and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.”
Ali, who converted to Islam in 2000, also brought up how his decision caused some tension between he and his mother who is an ordained minister. But, he called their religious differences “minutiae” and said that they were eventually able to see each other for who they were, not what they were.
The speech came on a weekend where we saw President Donald Trump use an executive order to enforce a temporary ban on Muslims from a select few countries from entering the United States.
Watch the entire speech below.