Mahershala Ali won just about every reward imaginable for Moonlight, including an Academy Award. The dashing actor is nominated yet again for Green Book, and he’ll be on hand at Sunday’s Oscar event to possibly take home another of the little gold statuettes to keep his other one company. Until the time comes that we know for sure, here are 10 surprising facts you may not know about Oscar nominee Mahershala Ali.
1. He Was The First Muslim Actor To Win An Academy Award
During his speech at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards in 2017, Mahershala Ali revealed that he was raised a Christian but later converted to Islam, according to iMDB. When the Luke Cage villain won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight in 2016, he had the honor of being the first Muslim to ever receive the distinction.
2. He Is A Respected Rapper In The Hip Hop Universe
If Oscar-winning wasn’t in the cards for Mahershala Ali, he’d still be busting raps as Prince Ali. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay star is secretly a well-respected rapper in the hip hop universe, and he collaborated with recording artists such as Keith Murray, Talib Kweli, Planet Asia and other notables that you can see in this YouTube video. Prince Ali also named one of his cats after rapper Nas.
3. He’s Not Afraid To Stand Up for What He Believes In
Mahershala Ali is proud of his faith, as evidenced by his speech when he accepted his SAG award in 2017. The True Detective actor spoke out, according to Time, about the necessity for tolerance in response to President Donald Trump issuing an executive order that halted travel from several Muslim-majority nations. Incidentally, Ali was placed on the terrorist watch list for his Muslim name, he told GQ.
4. His Wife Is Multi-Talented And An Activist, Too
As The Inquisitr reported, Mahershala Ali’s wife Amatus Sami-Karim is a multi-talented and esteemed star in her own right. Sami-Karim, a successful conceptual artist has collaborated with singers Jneiro Jarel and Meshell Ndegeocello. She also believes in religious freedoms and has spoken out about and educated people against resorting to Islamophobia at a UCLA lecture.
5. He Received A Wonderful Gift Right Before His Oscar
Mahershala Ali’s wife Amatus Sami-Karim gifted him with baby daughter Bari Najma Ali on February 22, 2017, four days before he won his Academy Award for Moonlight. With Bari’s birth, he became a first-time father and experienced a fantastic week.
6. He Has A Favorite Comfort Food
Like most of us, Mahershala Ali has a guilty pleasure when it comes to one of his food choices. He shared with WebMD that he’s a cereal guy and that he really loves his granola. “That’s my cookie, my cake, my sweet treat,” he told them. He also added, “I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but I do eat a lot of fish and chicken once or twice a week.”
7. He Was Previously A College Basketball Player At St. Mary’s
Mahershala Ali said that he considered himself a sports kid, and he played a lock-down defender for Northern California college St. Mary’s basketball team early on. Standing at 6-foot-3, the former college basketball player once amassed a “‘perfect 10-for-10 shooting from the free throw line,’” The Washington Post reports.
8. He’s Been His Own Barber For Some Time
Ali, who is 45-years-old, revealed that he’s been cutting his own hair since he’s been a 12-year-old. His mother, that’s her in the Instagram snap below, worked as a beautician for years. And since his hair always looks great, fans can assume that he picked up his mom’s skills.
9. He’s Poised To Possibly Break A Second Record At The Oscars
Should the handsome actor snag a second Oscar for his role in 2018’s Green Book Sunday, he will become the first African American actor to win two supporting actor Oscars. The House of Cards actor also won a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for his portrayal of Dr. Don Shirley, an African-American classical pianist in the drama.
10. There’s One Role He’s Longed To Do
According to iMDB, Mahershala Ali was quoted as saying, “I haven’t gotten to do the leading man thing, so I would love to do that!” It’s a given that entertainment fans would enjoy seeing him in breakout lead roles such as those The Notebook star Ryan Gosling has starred in. Could it be safe to say that there might be a nomination for Best Actor happening for him in the future?