Mahershala Ali Oscar speech

Oscars 2017: Mahershala Ali Wins Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight

Moonlight shined early at the 89th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night, where Mahershala Ali claimed the night’s first prize, for Best Supporting Actor.

In the acclaimed Moonlight, Ali plays Juan, a Miami drug dealer who acts as surrogate father to a young boy who struggles with a crack-addicted mom (played by Naomie Harris) and perpetual bullying.

In accepting his Oscar, Ali said, “I had so many wonderful teachers [growing up], and one thing that they consistently told me was it wasn’t about you, it’s not about you. It’s about these characters. You’re in service to these stories and these characters. And I’m so blessed to have had an opportunity [to do that].”

To grab gold, Ali bested fellow nominees Jeff Bridges (Hell of High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals). He previously won a Screen Actors Guild Award in the same category for Moonlight, as well as earned a Golden Globe nod.

Ali’s win came just days after he and wife Amatus Sami-Karim welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Bari Najma.