Talk about those who are trendsetters in their chosen careers and industries. Mahershala Ali, the American actor, and rapper who knows how to nail his roles would certainly be counted among them. He set the record in Hollywood as the first Muslim actor to receive an Oscar after his role in Moonlight. His star status has seen a meteoric rise over the years with roles in House of Cards, The Hunger Games, Luke Cage, and Hidden Figures.
Bio & Age
Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, known professionally as Mahershala Ali, was born on February 16, 1974, in Oakland, California, the son of Willicia and Phillip Gilmore. He was raised by his mother, a Christian minister in the nearby Hayward neighborhood after his father Phillip left home when he was only 3 years old. Phillip left home to pursue a career as a dancer and actor, and as an actor, he appeared on Broadway. Ali’s visits to his father exposed him to acting and sparked his interest in it.
His mother later remarried and his stepfather took on the role of the little boy’s educator. When he grew up, Ali was talented in sports and played basketball. He received a basketball scholarship to St. Mary’s College of California (SMC) in Moraga and graduated in 1966 with a diploma in mass communication. The House of Cards actor did not like the idea of a sports career, as his interest in it waned until his graduation due to the cut-throat nature of the sport. However, after participating in stage work and then working as an apprentice at the California Shakespeare Theater, he became interested in other areas. In addition, he enrolled in acting studies at New York University and received his master’s degree in 2000.
Although Ali grew up in a Christian household with an ordained Christian woman as his mother, there was not a hint of speculation that the actor would leave the teachings of Christianity to convert to Islam. He did, however. While at NYU in 1999, he converted to Islam and also changed his last name from Gilmore to Ali and joined the Ahmadiyya community (a reform movement within Islam). The change was shocking for his mother, and it took many years before she accepted him as a Muslim.
Mahershala Ali’s career began primarily on the small screen, where he appeared as a regular guest in series such as Crossing Jordan (2004) and Threat Matrix (2003-2004) as well as in numerous smaller roles. His career break came sooner rather than later in 2004 when he was cast as Richard Tyler in the sci-fi series The 4400 (2004-2007). This was followed by his on-screen breakthrough in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as Tizzy alongside Brad Pitt (2008).
Other notable works include his role as Colonel Boggs in the series The Hunger Games, where he appeared on set with Jennifer Lawrence, Mombassa in Predator, and Moses Washington in Jones. He also starred in the box office hit Hidden Figures as Jim Johnson with Taraji P. Henson, Nathan Clay in Alphas, Kofi in The Place Beyond the Pines, Cornell Stokes in Marvel’s Luke Cage. He received an NAACP nomination for his portrayal of Calvin Willis in The Wronged Man, and an Emmy nomination in the Netflix series House of Cards as Remy Danton starring Kevin Spacey. In the upcoming season of True Detective, he will star as Arkansas State Police Detective Wayne Hays.
Although he has enjoyed great success over the years, his role as a drug dealer and mentor Juan in the 2016 movie Moonlight will be the most enthusiastic one yet. His star performance has been acclaimed by critics with great acclaim and a number of nominations. At the 89th Academy Awards, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, making him the first Muslim to receive an Oscar. He also received the SAG Award and the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for the Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award.
In addition to his thriving acting career and impressive resume, Mahershala Ali is also known as a rapper in the hip-hop community. In the late 2000s, he was signed to the Bay Area record label Hieroglyphics Imperium under the stage name Prince Ali. His debut album, Curb Side Service, was released in 2007, after which he decided to focus on acting. However, he still finds a connection between music and acting. Ali makes a mixtape for each leading role he takes on, to give his character a soundtrack.
Wife – Amatus Sami-Karim
Amatus Sami-Karim is the name of Ali’s wife. She is seldom called his wife, but she has retained her own individual personality. Sami-Karim is an independent artist and enjoys a wide range of artistic activities, including music and acting, with some impressive creations in these fields, such as her EP Broken Compass. She graduated from the Tischschule der Künste and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
The duo met at NYU and have been together ever since, the knot was tied in 2013. Four days before its historic Oscar, the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Bari Najma, on February 22, 2017.
Mahershala Ali’s Net Worth
With his depth and skill in film, television, and theater, Mahershala Ali is fast becoming your most sought-after actor and one of the most sought-after faces in Hollywood. As such, he has accumulated a net worth of $2 million, which is expected to grow over the years.
Height and Other Facts
His first name Mahershala is actually a shortened version. Since he comes from a Christian background, he was given a nod of the head when he was given the longest name in the Bible, after the second son of the prophet Isaiah, Mahershalalhashbaz. The name is of Hebrew origin.
Ali is (1.87 m) tall and weighs 85 kg (187 lbs).