Acceptance Speech by Mahershala Ali at the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards
January 29, 2017
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Barry.
I – I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when you 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 that he mattered, that he was okay, and accept him. And I hope that we do a better job there.
You know, when we kind of get caught up in the minutia, the details that make us all different. I think there’re 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 going a war – to go to war about it, to say that that person is different from me. 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 was able to – I’m able to see her. She’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown, and that stuff is minutia. It’s not that important.
So I want to – I want to thank Tarell Alvin McCraney for his courage. I want to thank Barry Jenkins. Just – just for your insight, your brilliance and your direction and just the collaboration, that opportunity. I will always hold that close to me. I want to thank the – my fellow cast mates who – any one of those young men could be up here holding this. I tell you. It’s beautiful work.
So Plan B, A24, thank you. Peace and blessings be upon you.