It’s been a busy couple years for Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. The actor can be seen playing Dr. Don Shirley in the Golden Globe-winning film Green Book, and tonight, True Detective‘s third season premieres to critical acclaim and tons of fan anticipation. While his professional life has been busy, he’s also kept on his toes by his almost-two-year-old daughter, Bari Najma.
“It’s good. It’s been amazing,” said Ali, 44, from last year’s Oscar’s red carpet. “She wears me out and puts me in my place in her own way, but I absolutely love her and that’s my heart. She’s absolutely grounding and it’s just beautiful.”
Sami-Karim is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She often posts her art on her personal Instagram, while supporting husband Ali’s work as well. The couple has been together since their time at Tisch. In 2014, Ali told ELLE magazine just how special his connection to Sami-Karim was: “She and I have known each other for a really long time [about] 17 years. So, at this point, she’s seen a big shift in things, but at the same time, she’ll ground me real quick if I start feeling myself a little too much. She’s very real, like, seriously.”
In True Detective‘s third season premiering tonight, Ali plays state police detective Wayne Hays who’s caught up in a case surrounding two missing children in the Ozarks in 1980. In an interview with Variety, Ali revealed that the lead role was originally supposed to be a white character…that is, until Ali read the scripts.
The lead was white, and the other cop was black. And once you see the show, you’ll see that is different from the other seasons, in that the lead character, he’s at the point of the arrowhead. I read the scripts. I was blown away. I got to read the first four, and I could have played that second lead, the supporting character…I was like, ‘I think the story would improve in this case if this lead character is black.’ We don’t have to beat them over the head with the race element, but let’s write it. I’m encouraging [Pizzolatto] to think of it from the standpoint of how it’s experienced. Racism is not experienced as the N-word all the time, right? It’s more like, he wouldn’t even look me in the eye. And so I came back to [Pizzolatto] and I was like, ‘I want to play that part.’ And he thought about it a couple of days, got back to me, and he was like, ‘Yo, let’s do this. I’m down.’
Ali also discussed the differences between Season 3 and the other installments of the anthology series.
“There’s a light about this season, especially in later episodes,” he said. “There’s a hope in this one that’s very different from the previous seasons.”