By Fatima Husain
Mahershala Ali – the Academy Award winning actor has many impressive titles under his belt. From his early success in TV Series Crossing Jordan, his frank role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to House of Cards on Netflix - and his recent TIFF Premiere Green Book – Mahershala is undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors.
© TIFF Trailers | YouTube
During a recent In Conversation … event organized by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) ’18, Mahershala shared a candid dialogue about the influence of Hip-hop in his life, growing up in Oakland, striking memories of his father and his acting career.
Reminiscing his school days in his rather, velvety voice, Mahershala said: “I was an athlete making a transition into acting… I never got to play anybody black in grad school. One time at the end of my third year I did a Pearl Cleage play called Blues for An Alabama Sky. And I can’t tell you how liberating that was in a certain way to just have experienced writing I didn’t have to do an extra set of transforming - so that the audience is at ease and believes me.”
Speaking about the role music plays in the preparation of his characters, Mahershala said music is huge. He plays character specific music even in the makeup trailers – if the character is from the ‘80s Mahershala listens to music from the ‘80s. If he plays a ‘90s character, Mahershala has music from the ‘90s playing around him and so on.
“It’s because we are all frequencies. And music changes your frequency.”
Mahershala outlines part of the foundation of his character work as tapping into the music his character responds to, music of the time his character would be aware of, cross paths in some ways or simply hear.
Mahershala Ali’s drive for his work is irrefutable. For Mahershala, there is and was no overnight success. It takes time to evolve into the person he is today. This is his achievement.
Watch the entire In Conversation… here:
© TIFF Talks | YouTube