Mahershala Ali took home the first Oscar of the evening on Sunday night, winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight.
This is the first Oscar win and nomination for the actor, who also won this year’s SAG Award and Critics’ Choice Award for his portrayal of a Miami drug dealer in the groundbreaking film.
Directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight tells the story of a gay black man from childhood to adulthood, and Ali plays the boy’s role model in the first third of the film.
“It isn’t about you, it’s about these characters,” he said while accepting his award. “You’re in service to these stories and these characters, and I’m so blessed to have an opportunity. It was about Juan, it was about Chiron, it was about Paula.”
Ali also thanked his wife, who gave birth to their daughter four days earlier.