Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mahershala Ali Covers GQ

Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali is on the July cover of GQ. Here are some highlights from the accompanying interview:

On perception:
“When suddenly you go from being followed in Barneys to being fawned over, it will mess with your head. (He remembers being on subway trains and seeing people hide their rings from him.) Those experiences that you have from age 10, when you start getting these little messages that you are something to be feared...[Recently, I was] walking down the street in Berkeley, and some cops roll up on you and say straight up, ‘Give me your ID,’ and you’re like, ‘What the fuck?’ ”

On his father leaving his mother when Ali was a toddler:
“When I look at the fact that I was more than twice my father’s age when I became a parent, it helps me put a little bit of his situation into perspective. It helps me appreciate and respect that my parents were able to do what they did do and love me as deeply as they did.”

On how he approaches difficult scenes:
“I’ll find a song or two that is right for that moment and that the character really connects to. I’ll listen to that and try to stay in the thoughts of that character, try to stay in the time he’s experiencing.”

On converting to Islam in 1999:
“It benefits me from the standpoint of really creating empathy for these characters that I try to embody, other human beings with issues as deep and personal as my own. Because of Islam, I am acutely aware that I am a work in progress [The daily practice] puts a healthy pressure on you to be your best self, beginning with your own spirit and how that feeds into your actions.”

On patriotism:
“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 absolutely love this country, but like so many people have some real questions and concerns about how things have gone down over the years and where we’re at. And that’s from a place of love, because I want the country to be what it says it is on paper.

I sincerely believe we have the capacity to actually make this country great. 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.”

Read the full interview at GQ.

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