It is certainly a banner year for Mahershala Ali, who, in addition to receiving his first-ever Emmy nomination for Netflix’s House of Cards over the summer, is earning tons of accolades for his performance as a drug dealer who takes a bullied kid under his wing in the indie darling Moonlight.
On Monday, following his win at the Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight, Ali received his first-ever Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture. While happy to be nominated, Ali tells ET that he sees it as an opportunity to celebrate the people who supported him throughout his career.
“It puts a lot of type of things into perspective for me,” he says, adding that he’s grateful for the experience of working with Moonlight director and screenwriter Barry Jenkins, who is also nominated.
In total, Moonlight earned six nominations -- just one behind the other Oscars favorite, La La Land -- including Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay and recognition for Naomie Harris’ supporting role as a drug-addled mother.
The film, along with Fences, Hidden Figures, Loving and Lion, are just a handful of this year’s celebrated films starring people of color. In the wake of the #Oscarssowhite controversy that plagued the Academy Awards two years in a row, Ali hopes the recognition is “a start to something that becomes really normal.”
“I would love to see people of color continue to get opportunities and have opportunities to do projects that are action blockbusters as well as being a part of projects that are art house and indie or projects that in some way find themselves around and in the conversation every awards season,” Ali adds. “We want to exist in all platforms and we want to see diversity and see people being included on every level. I hope that this is a real beginning for that.”
While Moonlight certainly represents a new level of artistic achievement for Ali, it’s becoming a father that the actor is most proud of when looking back on 2016. At the beginning of December, he and wife Amatus Sami-Karim announced they were expecting. “That’s been my proudest moment -- getting ready to be a dad in a month and a half,” Ali says, adding with a laugh: “And then after, definitely anything and all things Moonlight.”
“It’s been a really special experience,” he says, reflecting on the new family that has come out of bonding with the cast and crew of Moonlight. “Between those things with work and what’s happened more recently in my personal life, I think those two things make this year extraordinary and special.”
As to whether Sami-Karim will join him on the red carpet in January to celebrate at the Golden Globes, it’s a matter of wait and see: “Hopefully, yes. Fingers crossed!” Ali says.
The 74th Golden Globes, hosted Jimmy Fallon, will be handed out live on Sunday, Jan. 8, starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.