Mahershala Ali came to prominence after appearing in the 2016 film Moonlightas well as in the 2019 movie Green Book. He won one Academy Award for each one of those films and became the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. Only a couple months ago the 45-year-old California native was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Mahershala Ali's most recent appearances on screen are in the television series True Detective this year, as well as in the 2019 film Alita: Battle Angel. But what did he do before gaining public attention? Let's find out how the Green Book stars' life was like before being famous.

This is Mahershala Ali's life and career before being famous

Mahershala Ali pursued a Master of Fine Arts from New York University and began his acting career in the early 2000's in television series such as Crossing Jordan, where he played "Dr. Trey" from 2001 to 2002, and Threat Matrix, where he portrayed "Jelani" from 2003 to 2004 for a total of 15 episodes. Later on he started to get bigger roles like in The 4400 where he appeared as "Richard" from 2004 to 2007, and House of Cards portraying "Remy" from 2013 to 2016.

His career on the big screen also includes several successful projects like the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttonwhere he played "Tizzy," and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2, where he was cast as "Boggs" in 2014 and 2015, respectively. 

Five quick facts about the Moonlight and Green Book star Mahershala Ali 

-Mahershala Ali is also a rapper and he actually named his cat Nas after the hip hop artist

-He is set to play "Blade" in a future Marvel Universe adaptation of the character 

-He has said "Mahershala" is his nickname, since his full name is Mahershalalhashbaz Ali

-During a speech on the 2017 SAG Awards the actor revealed he is a Muslim and converted to Islam 17 years ago

-He is married to actress Amatus-sami-Karim. Together they have a daughter named Bari who was born in 2017