At graduate school in 1999, I finally had the chance to examine why I believe what I believe. I realised that I'd had no period in my life where I'd consciously tried to develop my own theology.

Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali

Profession: Actor
Nationality: American

Some suggestions for you :

The call for diversity is about recognizing that in order to be in the conversation come awards season, it goes back to the content that is being produced.

It's still amazing, but when I was growing up, Harlem was the Mecca of black culture. I was so inspired by it, the aspirational feeling you'd get spending time there. Experiences that were really specific to that place.

I really wasn't into comic books growing up.

In thinking about it, the villains often have a little bit more range because their morality is different. You can have just a really good time as an actor, and there is just more there that you can explore on that side of the story.

Basketball wasn't going particularly well, but in my senior year, I did a play and got a wonderful card from a professor that said, 'I don't know what your plans are after school or if acting is a part of it, but you have something special.' Hearing that from someone who I had so much respect for pointed me in that direction.

You want entertainment in general, every aspect of it, to be more of a reflection of the diverse world that we live in.

It's about very talented writers, directors, producers, and actors being in a position for their projects to be supported, but there's just not enough black projects being made.

I think selfishly, as an actor, we always want to do more.

There are so many women who contributed in a very real way in pushing for the space program during the time in which there was a lot of competition to get into space first, and to know that there were African-American women who were integral in that success is pretty phenomenal.

I do believe that there are creative chakras or different sorts of energy centers.

The people that I admire have a wonderful balance of self-belief and humility.

I approach things from my feeling first. I have to get a feel for the character. I'll do that through music; I'll do it through what is naturally popping up for me when I read the script. My ideas or whatever the occupation of the character might be.

It's funny how you can be thought of as somebody who humanizes bad guys, and I'll take that, but it is something that gave me pause, and I started speaking to my team about finding a good guy.

A lot of actors know they want to be actors a little bit earlier on. I didn't even really start studying until I was about 22.