Mahershala Ali made history on Sunday night (26 February) after becoming the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award. The Moonlight actor managed the impressive feat after beating the likes of Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals) and Dev Patel (Lion) to take home the best-supporting actor for his role as charismatic drug dealer Juan in Barry Jenkin's acclaimed coming-of-age drama.

"I had so many wonderful teachers [growing up], and one thing that they consistently told me was it wasn't about you, it's not about you. It's about these characters," he said during his rousing speech. "You're in service to these stories and these characters. And I'm so blessed to have had an opportunity [to do that]."

Career highlights

Ali also stars alongside Taraji P Henson in Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures, a drama about black female mathematicians that who played pivotal roles in Nasa's 1961 space race.

He has wide-ranging background in film, television, and theatre. His acting credits include The Hunger Games, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Netflix series House of Cards.

In January 2016, he won the Screen Actor's Guild award for Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight.

Is he married?

Ali tied the knot with his wife, AmatusSami-Karim, in 2003. The couple welcomed their first child Bari just four days before the award ceremony.

Paying tribute to his other half he said: "I just want to thank her for being such a soldier through this process and really carrying me through it all."

Has he always been Muslim?

Ali was raised Christian but and converted to Islam in 2000. The star, who is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, used his SAG Supporting Actor speech to discuss the persecution of those from Muslim-majority countries.

"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, we put things to the side, I'm able to see her, she's able to see me, we love each other, the love has grown. That stuff is minutiae. It's not that important."

Did he always want to become an actor?

Before Ali pursued a career, he had set his sights on the NBA. He played basketball for four years at St Mary's College of California after receiving a basketball scholarship. He graduated in 1996 with a degree in mass communication.

Mahershala Ali
Actor Mahershala Ali, winner of best supporting actor for Moonlight poses in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California Frazer Harrison/Getty Images