Mahershala Ali won his second Oscar on Sunday night, taking home the Best Supporting Actor for playing real-life pianist Dr. Don Shirley in Universal’s Green Book. Ali during his acceptance speech thanked the piano virtuoso for “who he was and the life that he lived.”
The actor also thanked co-star Viggo Mortensen, director Peter Farrelly, executive producer Octavia Spencer and his grandmother.
“I want to dedicate this to my grandmother, who has been in my ear my entire life, telling me that if at first I don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Ali said his grandmother constantly offered encouragement by telling him: “I could do anything I put my mind to, and always, always pushing me to think positively. I know that I would not be here, that she has gotten me over the hump every step of the way.”
Green Book premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and immediately became an awards-season contender. The pic re-creates the concert tour of Shirley, an African-American musician touring the Deep South in 1962 with only a Bronx-bred Italian driver and temporarily unemployed bouncer by his side.
Mortensen co-stars as the driver, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, who helps protect Shirley from the dangers of the segregated South.
Ali also won the Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Award for the role. But those wins came amid backlash from Shirley’s family, who have come forward to say that the film’s portrayal of the musician was not accurate.
Ali won his first Oscar in 2017, picking up the supporting actor award for his performance in Moonlight.
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