I thought, 'I've been doing this for 16 years professionally. I have a window where I want to play leading parts.'

Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali

Profession: Actor
Nationality: American

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Now, being one who lived in the era of Obama, there are so many markers of improvement made. It's hard to be mindful of that, in the same way you're going, 'Oh everything's cool now!' and it isn't. But I try to be mindful of how much of an improvement there has been because that gives hope. You need hope. I need hope!

Cultures and races are mixing in a very organic way in the world, and that should be reflected in film and television.

One thing that the audience, and perhaps critics, aren't aware of is that, especially in a film like 'Moonlight,' you always shoot a lot more footage than makes the cut of the film.

I prayed every day of my life, and that was instilled in me as a kid, and as I've gotten older, that's just matured in me.

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.

When I was growing up, in the '80s and '90s, I just never really saw myself reflected in the things that I had a liking for. It makes a difference.

At a certain point in my career, I was probably having a difficult time 'holding space.' So you get a character that has to be commanding in order for him to resonate and make sense.

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.

I do believe in the potential of like-minded people coming together.

To really be conscious of how long the journey is, be patient, push yourself, persevere, and always be working on your craft while waiting for your break. That's what I'm still working on, having done this for 20 years now.

I haven't gotten to do the leading man thing, so I would love to do that!

I always hope to be a better person tomorrow than today.

The more you work and get known for something, sometimes things begin to narrow a bit, and your opportunities get more... specific.

I think #OscarsSoWhite is about there not truly being enough people of color represented.