Mahershala Ali

  • Critically-Acclaimed Award-Winning Actor
  • Musician and Rapper

Mahershala Ali is quickly becoming one of the freshest and most in-demand faces in Hollywood with his extraordinarily diverse skill set and wide-ranging background in film, television, and theater.

He is the first black actor to win two Academy Awards in the same category for his performances as Juan in Moonlight and Don Shirley in Green Book. Mahershala is also known for portraying House of Cards fan favorite Remy Danton, Cornell 'Cottonmouth' Stokes in Marvel's Luke Cage, and Wayne Hays in HBO's True Detective. Most recently, he's starred alongside Ramy Youssef in Hulu's comedy-drama series Ramy.



Mahershala Ali headshot
Commencement Address at Saint Mary's College of California [22:37] - Get Sharable Link
Press & Media
Ideas for Meeting Planners

Mahershala Ali is quickly becoming one of the freshest and most in-demand faces in Hollywood with his extraordinarily diverse skill set and wide-ranging background in film, television, and theater.

On the big screen, Ali stars opposite Naomie Harris and Andre Holland in Moonlight. The film, released in October of 2016, opened to rave reviews and praise of Mahershala. Mahershala has thus far won a Critics’ Choice Award and a SAG Award for “Best Supporting Actor”, as well as an Independent Spirit Robert Altman Award for “Best Ensemble” on behalf of Moonlight. Additionally, he has been nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award for his performance in the film and has won over 20 Critics Groups Awards. Mahershala joined the cast in Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures, opposite Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Kevin Costner, released December 25, 2016, which has so far won a SAG Award for “Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture”. Mahershala also stars in Michael Larnell’s Roxanne Roxanne with Chanté Adams, Nia Long, Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips and Shenell Edmonds, which premiered at Sundance, and joined the cast in Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel with Christoph Waltz.

Ali can also be seen starring in Netflix and Marvel Entertainment’s Luke Cage in the role of Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. A Harlem nightclub owner, Stokes became an unexpected foe in Luke’s life when Stokes’ criminal activities threaten Luke’s world. Ali stars alongside Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson, and Alfre Woodard.

Ali has previously been seen starring in Focus Features’ Kicks, which also premiered in September of 2016, and in Gary Ross’s civil war era drama, The Free State of Jones, opposite Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Keri Russell.

In 2015, Ali reprised his role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 , the fourth and final installment in the critically and commercially acclaimed Hunger Games franchise, alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland, and Julianne Moore. As District 13’s Head of Security, ‘Boggs’, Ali guides and protects Katniss (Lawrence) through the final stages of the district’s rebellion against the Capitol.

Ali is known for his role on the award-winning Netflix original series, House of Cards , where he reprised his fan-favorite role as lobbyist Remy Danton, who went on to become Chief of Staff in the fourth season. He has been nominated for a Critics Choice Award and Emmy for his work on the show.

Ali’s previous feature film credits include Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines opposite Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, Wayne Kramer’s Crossing Over starring Harrison Ford, John Sayles’ Go For Sisters, and David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

On television, he appeared opposite Julia Ormond in Lifetime’s The Wronged Man for which he subsequently received a NAACP Nomination for Best Actor. Ali also had a large recurring role on Syfy’s Alphas, as well as the role of Richard Tyler, a Korean War pilot, on the critically acclaimed drama, The 4400, for three seasons.

On the stage, Ali appeared in productions of Blues for an Alabama Sky, The School for Scandal, A Lie of the Mind, A Doll’s House, Monkey in the Middle, The Merchant of Venice, The New Place, and Secret Injury, Secret Revenge. His additional stage credits include appearing in Washington, D.C. at the Arena Stage in the title role of The Great White Hope, and in The Long Walk and Jack and Jill. He also recently completed his starring run in the off-Broadway play Smart People, for which he received rave reviews.

Originally from Hayward, California, Ali received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications at St. Mary’s College. He made his professional debut performing with the California Shakespeare Festival in Orinda, California. Soon after, he earned his Master’s degree in acting from New York University’s prestigious graduate program.