With his “Moonlight” win, Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar

Mahershala Ali has won Best Supporting Actor at this year's Oscars ceremony, it was reportedly the first time the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had awarded an Oscar to a Muslim actor.

The actor beat out the likes of Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) and BAFTA winner Dev Patel (Lion) to take the trophy for one of the most hotly contested categories of the evening.

Coming-of-age drama Moonlight follows protagonist Chiron through three stages of his life; Ali plays Juan, a crack dealer who takes Chiron under his wing to protect him from the emotional abuse dealt out by his mother (Naomie Harris).  

“I had so many wonderful teachers [growing up], and one thing that they consistently told me was it wasn’t about you, it’s not about you. It’s about these characters. You’re in service to these stories and these characters. And I’m so blessed to have had an opportunity [to do that].”

This year’s slate of Oscar nominees, and its most nominated movies, were markedly more diverse than in past years. Another nominee for best supporting actor, Dev Patel, would reportedly have been the first Indian actor to win an Oscar had he won.

He also acknowledged his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, who gave birth to their daughter four days ago.

During his Oscars acceptance speech, Ali thanked his teachers and mentors, who taught him, he said, that “It’s not about you, it’s about these characters. You are a servant. You’re in service to these stories and these characters.”