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Mahershala Ali gives inspiring speech as SAG Awards winners take on Trump

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It was a night to honour the biggest talents in film and television.

But many of the Screen Actors Guild Awards winners also used the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump, and in particular his “Muslim ban”.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lily Tomlin, Bryan Cranston and the cast of Stranger Things were among those to discuss the current political climate, but it was Mahershala Ali’s speech that was perhaps the most moving.

“I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happens when you persecute people,” the rising star said as he won Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight.

“They fold into themselves and what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentleman who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community. Taking the opportunity to uplift him and to tell him he mattered, he was OK and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.”

Tears welled in Mahershala’s eyes as he went on: “We kind of get caught up in the minutia and the details that make us all different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that.

Inspiring: Mahershala Ali gave an emotional speech after winning Best Supporting Actor at the SAG Awards | A24

“There’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s the opportunity to go to war about it. And to say that that person is different than me and I don’t like you so let’s battle.”

The actor, who beat Lion’s Dev Patel, Hell or High Water’s Jeff Bridges, Florence Foster Jenkins’s Hugh Grant and Manchester by the Sea’s Lucas Hedges, was applauded by his peers for his inspiring words and emotional delivery.

He concluded: “My mother is an ordained minister. I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, you put things to the side and I’m able to see her and she’s able to see me. We love each other. The love has grown. And that stuff is minutia. It’s not that important.”