Don't You Dare Call Moonlight's Mahershala Ali "Hershel"

Long before he stole the show as a drug dealer turned father figure in Barry Jenkins' Moonlight, which won the 2017 Golden Globe award for Best Drama, actor Mahershala Ali was scripting his kisses after school and getting dumped via class notes. He looks back on his humble beginnings with Lynn Hirschberg, here.

Released on 1/9/2017

Credits

Starring: Mahershala Ali

Transcript

00:04
Wow, my favorite birthday...
00:05
Well, let's see.
00:06
We went from the bay area, my family used to drive to Tahoe.
00:10
Like, a bunch of us would get together in a cabin.
00:12
35 people in a four-bedroom cabin in Tahoe.
00:17
[Woman's Voice] 35? Sleeping bags everywhere.
00:19
Sleeping on top of each-other.
00:21
And we'd have a blast, and go snowmobiling.
00:24
But it was always around Presidents' Day weekend,
00:26
and I'm an Aquarius, February 16th.
00:29
This particular year, we were heading back from Tahoe,
00:33
and on our way back there was this blizzard.
00:36
We got stuck and we had to go some different route.
00:40
It ended up in Reno.
00:41
We had to be entertained.
00:43
We were out at Circus Circus, and this casino,
00:48
playing video games for like, two or three extra days
00:53
and missing school as a result of it.
00:55
So I kind of had a birthday celebration there.
00:57
But the flip side of it is that I missed my
00:59
surprise birthday party.
01:01
I was in Reno playing video games and I actually
01:04
missed my surprise birthday party that my mother
01:06
was throwing for me at home in the Bay Area
01:09
when I got back from Tahoe with my grandmother and
01:13
the rest of my family.
01:14
To me, the party was up in Reno, that's where the party was,
01:17
'cause I was playing video games and we had
01:19
cake and everything up there.
01:20
That was one of my better birthdays.
01:22
I was in, I don't know, what is it,
01:24
I was in, like, fifth grade.
01:26
I was coming back from school,
01:28
and y'know, kids doing that whole,
01:29
Are you gonna kiss? He's not gonna kiss her,
01:31
you're not gonna kiss her.
01:32
So I think we were in like some backyard or something.
01:37
Jennifer McKissack was her name, actually.
01:41
Funny enough.
01:42
I think it was like, a mutual first move.
01:44
It was talked about, it was like,
01:46
So we're gonna kiss today after school.
01:48
I think it was like...
01:50
It was like, planned, y'know?
01:51
It was cool, I have a better story, actually.
01:54
My first girlfriend.
01:56
I was in first grade.
01:58
Kelly Creighton.
01:59
She was so cute.
02:01
And she was a year older than me,
02:03
so she was in second grade.
02:04
It was this really small private school
02:06
called American Heritage Christian School.
02:07
Kelly and I were in a class together, and I guess
02:11
it was, like, the homeroom class.
02:13
And the school's so small that
02:13
your first and second grade are sharing it.
02:15
So I get this note in class.
02:17
They called me Hershal back then, don't you dare.
02:20
Hey Hershal, will you go with me,
02:23
check yes or no.
02:25
I'm like, oooh, yes.
02:30
I sent the note back to Kelly, and in class,
02:33
the teacher's, whatever, teaching.
02:36
And I'm like, Me and Kelly are going together!
02:38
Hey, me and Kelly are going together!
02:42
Me and Kelly are going together!
02:44
And I'm sitting there geeked.
02:46
And then I get a note, I was like what's this?
02:48
I was like, oh, it's from my girlfriend.
02:51
I opened it up.
02:53
I wanna break up. You talk too much.
02:58
And that was it.
03:00
We broke up, it lasted like ten minutes.
03:03
That was my first girlfriend, ten minutes.
03:07
No action.