Mahershala Ali brought influences from his real life for his Oscar-nominated performance in "Moonlight."
The actor plays Juan, a drug trafficker who acts as a father figure to a shy, neglected child. Ali shaped his performance on mentors who left a positive impact on him.
"That makes all the difference in the world for many of us," Ali told IndieWire. "Those are the people we appreciate the most."
Ali was determined to show that just because Juan is a criminal, his misdeeds do not define him.
"He was so human to me ... It was a character flaw, but it wasn't what he was," Ali told Deadline.
The actor believes in the necessity to tell stories like "Moonlight" and reflect the society that we live in.
"Those people have to be enfranchised and empowered," Ali said. "That's not going to happen if these people from other walks of life aren't consistently given the same opportunity to tell their stories."