'Moonlight' Star Mahershala Ali Delivers Powerful Speech on Persecution at SAG Awards

'Moonlight' star Mahershala Ali spoke about his faith and the damage of persecution in his powerful SAG Awards speech.

Mahershala Ali of @moonlightmov #sagawards pic.twitter.com/q9txL6fW8R

— SAG Awards® (@SAGawards) January 30, 2017

As expected, Sunday's Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony was packed with inspiring speeches taking direct aim at this weekend's maddening White House developments. Stranger Things star David Harbour brought the house down with some advice about punching. Julia Louis-Dreyfus recounted her father's religious persecution in Nazi-controlled France. And Mahershala Ali, star of this year's phenomenal Moonlight, offered a touching message of compassion for those now facing persecution in America.

"I think what I've learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when you persecute people," he said while accepting the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. "They fold into themselves. 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 and that he was okay and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that."

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Later in his moving plea, Mahershala Ali recalled his relationship with his mother and his faith. "My mother is an ordained minister," he said. "I'm a Muslim. She didn't do backflips when I called to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, we 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."

On that note, I'll end with a quick word of advice: Go see Moonlight today.

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