Mahershala Ali took home the first Academy Award of the night at the 2017 Oscars.

The actor, who turned 43 earlier this month and is known for his supporting roles on the Netflix series House of Cards and Luke Cage, among others, won the Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film Moonlight. 

Ali thanked his many acting teachers and coaches who taught him that “It’s not about you,” but about the characters and stories that actors “are in service to.” He also thanked Moonlight Director Barry Jenkins and screenwriter Terrell Alvin McCraney for telling the story of a young gay black man growing up in a poor neighborhood of Miami.

Ali also expressed gratitude toward his wife, with whom he had a daughter just four days ago.

Here he is discussing his role in Moonlight as Juan, a friendly, father-figure drug dealer in an exclusive interview with uInterview:

Mahershala Ali On Why ‘Moonlight’ Character… by Uinterview

One of the next few winners was Viola Davis, who won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences, and delivered an incredibly moving sweep that was so eloquent Kimmel immediately afterwards joked that she was being nominated for an Emmy for that speech.

Davis, who has previously won an Emmy for How to Get Away With Murder, has swept this awards season, also having taken home the Golden Globe and SAG Award.

In her acceptance speech, Davis said, “People ask me all the time, what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies, exhume those stories, the stories of the people who dreamed.”

She continued, “I became an artist, and thank god I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life. So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.”

She continued to praise the playwright behind Fences which she described as, “a movie that is about people, and words, and life, and forgiveness, and grace.”

“We are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life,” Davis said after thanking and praising Fences playwright and screenwriter August Wilson and the film’s director and main actor, Denzel Washington. 

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