Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Everything you need to know about Mahershala Ali

mahershalaali.jpg

Other than that cock-up, the talk of Tinseltown last night was of Mahershala Ali becoming – remarkably – the first-ever Muslim Oscar winner, being awarded Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight, which (eventually) won Best Picture.

He also starred in another nominee for Best Picture, playing Jim Johnson in Hidden Figures, meaning that Ali has now been propelled firmly into the Hollywood A-list.

But who exactly is Mahershala Ali? If you looked at the picture and thought “oh yeah, he’s… that guy… from that thing…” then this is what you need to know.

Mahershala Ali

- Born 16 February 1974, he is 43 years old. But he doesn’t look it, the handsome devil

- He was born and raised as a Christian in California, with the full name Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore – his Christian name referencing Maher-shalal-hash-baz, a biblical prophetic-name child

- He converted to Islam in his final year of graduate school and changed his surname to Ali. He was known professionally by his full Christian name until 2010, when he shortened it to Mahershala

- He won a basketball scholarship to Saint Mary's College of California but decided against a career in the sport

The 4400

Ali alongside his co-stars in The 4400

- Beginning in television, he received his first recurring roles as Jelani Harper in Threat Matrix (2003-2004) and Richard Tyler in The 4400 (2004-2007)

- He played Tizzy Weathers in the 2008 David Fincher movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

- His star began to rise in 2013, when he was cast as Remy Danton in Netflix’s House of Cards, where he played a lawyer and lobbyist, and former press secretary, who struggles with the ethics of his role, despite being a seriously smooth political operator

House of Cards

Ali as Remy Danton, alongside Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood, in House of Cards

- On the small screen, he also gained acclaim for his role as Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes in the 2016 Netflix and Marvel series Luke Cage

- On the big screen, he played Colonel Boggs in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2 (2014/2015), before appearing in no fewer than four films and one short film (alongside his work in Luke Cage) in a busy 2016: KicksGubagude Ko; Free State of Jones; Moonlight and Hidden Figures

The Hunger Games

Playing Colonel Boggs alongside Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

- He owns a cat named Nas, after the legendary rapper. He is allergic to dogs, although he would not be able to have one anyway due to his religious beliefs

- Sorry everyone: he has a wife, Amatus Sami-Karim and a daughter, Bari Najma, who was born four days before his Oscars win

- Good grief, he can rock a white tux

Mahershala Ali

- Ali’s Oscars win wasn’t celebrated by all Muslims. He belongs to the minority Ahmadi sect; in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, Ahmadis are reviled by hardline Sunni Muslims as heretics, and even infidels. In Pakistan, they are considered non-Muslims, with the founder of the sect, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, born in 1835, denounced as a false prophet. The majority of Muslims believe that Mohammad was the final prophet

- Ali makes a music playlist for every character he plays

 -He has dabbled in rapping – in 2007 he released an album, Curb Side Service, under the name Prince Ali

(Images: Rex/AllStar/Netflix)

Related

beatty.jpg

The Oscars just made probably the biggest cock up in their history

ojsimpsontrial.jpg

You can watch the Best Documentary Oscar winner on iPlayer right now

rexfeatures_8434884pj.jpg

The best dressed men at the 89th Academy Awards

Comments

More

GI Joe is getting another reboot, but this time it's 'millennial'

Hasbro isn't saying what that means, but we're assuming the Joes will be drinking lattes while refusing to save for a house

by Tom Mendelsohn
24 Mar 2017

The new film from the guy behind 'In Bruges' looks brilliant

Even the trailer's hilarious

by Gary Ogden
24 Mar 2017

Han Solo's real name isn't actually Han Solo, Disney reveal

Disney's president stuns the fandom with the news that everyone's favourite smuggler might not quite be who he says he is

by Tom Mendelsohn
24 Mar 2017

Cinema hands out sick bags to people watching new cannibal horror film

It's got an 88% Rotten Tomatoes rating, too

by Matt Tate
23 Mar 2017

Ryan Gosling has finally revealed why he was laughing at the Oscars

He had the best reaction of the night

by Gary Ogden
23 Mar 2017

Watch the first five minutes of Ghost In The Shell now

Looks pretty decent tbf

by Gary Ogden
22 Mar 2017

You can now search for movies on Sky Q by yelling at your remote

"Luke, I'm your mum!"

by Gary Ogden
22 Mar 2017

Ridley Scott wants to make another four movies after 'Alien: Covenant'

We could be staring down the barrel of ten Alien movies

by Tom Mendelsohn
21 Mar 2017

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' ditched a much more hopeful ending

What could have been for Jyn and Cassian

by Matt Tate
21 Mar 2017

John Boyega and Mark Hamill are trolling Star Wars fans on Twitter

Daddy?

by Matt Tate
20 Mar 2017