• Ali onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images North America)Source: Getty Images North America
Mahershala Ali has become the first Muslim to win an Academy Award in an acting role for his performance in the film 'Moonlight'.
Sam Carroll

27 Feb 2017 - 2:10 PM  UPDATED 27 Feb 2017 - 2:10 PM

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.

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.

Follow our live coverage of the Oscars ceremony

Mahershala Ali says “I am a Muslim” in emotional speech after winning SAG Award for ‘Moonlight’
The 'Moonlight' actor made a passionate appeal for compassion and calm, in trying times for Muslims in America.