Mahershala Ali's SAG Awards Speech Encourages Us To Embrace Each Other's Differences

"We kind of get caught up in the minutiae and the details that make us all different."

Hollywood gathered Sunday night for the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, just days after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. As protests took place around the country, many of the actors in attendance at the awards spoke out against the ban, including several of the night's winners.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for example, used her acceptance speech for Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series to share the story of her immigrant father, who fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France. Others called for unity and highlighted the importance of diversity.

Mahershala Ali, who took home the award for Outstanding Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Moonlight, took a moment to relate his film's themes to the current situation, and to share his own experience connecting with his mother after converting to Islam. His words remind us that our differences, religious or otherwise, need not divide us.

"I think what I've learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when you persecute people," Ali began. "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 to tell him that he mattered, that he was OK, and accept him, and I hope that we do a better job of that."

He continued with this emotional and timely message about acceptance:

We kind of get caught up in the minutiae 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.

Ali, a Muslim, and his mother, an ordained minister, took the first option. "She didn't do backflips when I called her 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 minutiae. It's not that important."

The actor's powerful message received well-deserved applause from the audience. It's stories and sentiments like these that are so important to keep in mind in divisive times.

(H/T: Huffington Post)

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