LOS ANGELES (AP) – Mahershala Ali triumphantly wrapped up this year’s award season by winning the best supporting actor trophy at the Oscars on Sunday, adding an Academy Award to the trophies he’s collected for his role as a concert pianist in the interracial road-trip movie “Green Book.”
This was Ali’s second win in this category, coming two years after his win for “Moonlight.”
He dedicated his award to his grandmother, who he said has pushed him his entire life to keep trying time and time again and to remain positive.
“I know I wouldn’t be here without her,” he said onstage after receiving his statuette. “She has gotten me over the hump every step of the way.”
Ali beat out Sam Elliott (“A Star Is Born”), Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”), Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) and Sam Rockwell (“Vice”).
Ali’s portrayal of Dr. Don Shirley also earned the actor honors at the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTAs, which are bestowed by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” follows Italian-American bouncer Frank Anthony Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen, as he drives Shirley, a prominent black classical pianist, during a 1962 music tour through Jim Crow-era America. To avoid conflict and to protect the pianist, Mortensen’s character uses the Green Book – a mid-20th century guide for black travelers with tips on safe places to eat, visit and sleep while on the road.
In an unexpected twist Sunday, “Green Book” was crowned best picture.
Ali on Sunday thanked Shirley at the outset of his acceptance speech, saying telling the late pianist’s story pushed him as an actor. He later told reporters he believes winning his first Oscar in “Moonlight” opened the opportunity for him to be in “Green Book.”
“It’s not something that I take lightly; it’s not something that I take for granted,” he told reporters after his win. “If anything, it makes me more aware of the people that have contributed to my life from childhood to my team that works on my behalf and is always looking to take advantage of the best opportunities, opportunities that are fit for me.”
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