Muslim Actor Tears Up Over Trump's Ban During Emotional SAG Awards Speech

by Anna Menta

Mahershala Ali, a 42-year-old Muslim American actor, held back tears as he accepted his SAG Award on Sunday night.

Ali won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his role as an ultimately kind and moral drug dealer named Juan in director Barry Jenkin's acclaimed film "Moonlight."


When he took the stage to accept the award, the actor barely held back tears as he reflected on his character in light of President Donald Trump's recent sweeping executive order, which bans the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen).

Read Ali's full speech in full below:

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. Taking the opportunity to uplift him and to tell him he mattered, he was okay and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that. We kind of get caught up in the minutia and the details that make us all different, I think there's 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 the opportunity to go to war about it. And to say that that person is different than me and 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'm able to see her and she's able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutia. It's not that important. I'm going to thank Tarell Alvin McCraney for his courage. I'm going to thank Barry Jenkins just for your insight, your brilliance and your direction, and just the collaboration, that opportunity, I'll always hold that close to me. I want to thank my fellow cast mates. Any one of those young men could be up here holding this, I tell you. It's beautiful work. Plan B, A24, thank you. Peace and blessings be upon you.

Thank you for the inspiration, Mahershala. We could all use some right now.