In the movie, Ali plays Juan, a drug dealer who acts as a father-figure to main character Chiron, with the film becoming a hit with critics since premiering at the Telluride film festival in 2016.
Ali was nominated for a string of awards for his performance in the film, including Critics Choice and NAACP Image awards, winning both but falling short at both the Golden Globes and BAFTAs to Aaron Taylor Johnson and Dev Patel.
Born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, he converted to Islam in 2001 and has made a number of speeches detailing the discrimination he has faced since joining the faith.
Featured below is his speech at the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards where he won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Moonlight.
— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) January 30, 2017
This year's 89th Academy Award Ceremony broke new ground elsewhere also, with a record-breaking six nominees from African backgrounds nominated for awards across the four acting categories.
Denzel Washington was nominated for the fifth time for Best Actor in Fences, Ruth Negga was nominated for Best Acrress for her perfromance in Loving, and Viola Davis (Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures) were all nominated for Best Supporting Actress.