Oscar winner Mahershala Ali covers the July 2017 issue of GQ magazine. The 43-year-old Oakland native discusses his late father, Phillip Gilmore, who left home to chase his dreams of becoming an actor when Ali was a toddler.
Mahershala’s given name, Mahershalalhashbaz, is a Hebrew name that translate roughly to “Hurry to the spoils!” or, as Ali puts it, “Look at all this good shit here!”
Ali converted to Islam in 1999, which he says made him a man.
“Because of Islam, I am acutely aware that I am a work in progress,” he says, describing the daily prayers and rituals that “puts a healthy pressure on you to be your best self, beginning with your own spirit and how that feeds into your actions.”
Black people embraced Ali after his star turn in the coming-of-gay movie Moonlight. But he knows his political leanings to the right will alienate his black supporters.
Suggesting that black people aren’t patriotic, Ali says “I think African-Americans have a very convoluted relationship with patriotism. The fact is, we essentially were the abused child. We still love the parent, but you can’t overlook the fact that we have a very convoluted relationship with the parent.”
“I sincerely believe we have the capacity to actually make this country great again. There are enough people, there are enough believers out there, there are enough intelligent, empathetic souls out there that want good for the whole. I don’t know if it’ll happen in my lifetime, but I believe in time the pendulum will swing in the right direction.”
In the image above, photographer Peggy Sirota found a serene spot for a coastal sunrise photo at Avalon, Catalina Island, California.
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