*“Green Book” star Mahershala Ali is proving to be one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood.
For his Oscar-nominated performance in “Green Book,” he plays eccentric musician Dr. Don Shirley. Currently on the small screen, fans of HBO’s “True Detective” are transfixed by his transformative performance as Detective Wayne Hays and then there’s his “surprisingly complex” voice-acting as Uncle Aaron in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” – per 6abc.com.
The California native was born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore in 1974. He previously noted that his first name is the longest word in the Bible.
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When he played basketball at St. Mary’s College of California, the actor used a shortened version of his name, Mahershala Gilmore. Even though Basketball proved not to be a passion, he told Jimmy Kimmel that he learned a lot of lessons from the sport.
“It’s good preparation in terms of learning how to share and not making it about you and knowing that you’re going to win as a result of the efforts of your teammates and yourself,” he said.
After converting to Islam as a young adult, he took on a new last name, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, but he used the name Prince Ali when he dropped his first rap album. As an actor, his big break came with the television series “The 4400,” but it was his Oscar-winning performance in the 2016 film “Moonlight” that made him a household name.
Ali decided to return to the shortened version of his first name because, as an actor, he wants something that’s easier to pronounce.
“I’d love for people to be able to say my name. Especially with the work I do,” he told his alma mater ahead of his 2012 film The Place Beyond the Pines. “I’m ready to embrace this version of my name now. Easier for all!”
Mahershala Ali’s credits include Marvel’s “Luke Cage,” “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight” earned him his first Oscar nomination.
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