Mahershala Ali Biography

Mahershala Ali photo

Born: February 16, 1974


Date of Birth: February 16, 1974

Mahershala Ali is an American actor best known for his work in the Netflix series House of Cards and films such as The Curious Case of Benjamin (2008) and the final two installments of the Hunger Games franchise.

Born Mahershala Gordon in Oakland, California, to a Christian mother, Mahershala was named after the biblical Maher-shalal-hash-baz, the second son of the prophet Isaiah. Despite being raised in the Christian faith, Mahershala eventually converted to Islam, changing his surname to his current name, Ali. He attended the Catholic St. Mary's College of California on a basketball scholarship, graduating in 1996 with a degree in mass communications. While in college, he became disillusioned with sports and turned his interest towards acting.

The aspiring actor took part in a production of George C. Wolfe's Spunk, a part which earned him an apprenticeship at the California Shakespeare Theater following his graduation from SMC. He made his professional acting debut performing at the California Shakespeare Festival in Orinda, California. He then enrolled in New York University's graduate acting program, and graduated with a master's degree in drama in 2000.

Mahershala landed his first big role a year later on the NBC crime drama Crossing Jordon. He played Dr. Trey Saunders and was a main cast member for the show's first season. Following this, he appeared in shows such as Haunted, NYPD Blue, and CSI: Crime Scene Invesigation. The next three years saw the actor starring in the short-lived drama series Threat Matrix, as well as the sci-fi series The 4400.

The call of the silver screen would soon attract the rising star, as he earned his big breakout role in the 2008 Oscar-winning drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button alongside heavy-hitters Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Over the next several years, he appeared in many big budget films, including Crossing Over (2009), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), and the blockbusters The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015). During this time, he also had a three-season-long recurring role as Remy Danton on the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series House of Cards.

Mahershala can also be seen in the Netflix superhero series Luke Cage and the Civil War biopic Free State of Jones (2016), playing the pivotal role of Moses alongside Matthew McConaughey.

He also starred in the Oscar-nominated drama Moonlight which earned him numerous awards, including an Academy Award and a SAG Award.

Since then, he has starred in Green Book, which won the People's Choice award at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. For his role in the film, Mahershala won Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and at the Academy Awards.

In 2013, Mahershala married musician Amatus-Sami Karim, whom he'd met 14 years earlier when they were both students at NYU. Their first child, a daughter, was born just days before the 2017 Academy Awards, on February 22, 2017.


Green Book (2018)
Hidden Figures (2017)
Moonlight (2016)
Kicks (2016)
Free State of Jones (2016)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
Supremacy (2014)
Go For Sisters (2014)
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Predators (2010)
Crossing Over (2009)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Making Revolution (2003)

  Change Location