I would argue that Mahershala Ali has the best smile in Hollywood. This cover is wonderful, and you absolutely want to click through to GQ to see the rest of the photos. They are great. The styling is fantastic, and the clothes are brilliant on him (which makes sense; Mahershala spent all of awards season wearing everything incredibly well). They’re all basically like this:
You will want to go to there, with him ideally, and you’re also going to want to buy a bomber jacket. I’m going to go out and pick up a hard copy of this issue — the photo shoot is that good.
But more than that, the profile, by Carvell Wallace (who is a great writer), is excellent, covering not just Ali’s childhood and career, but religion and politics and race:
He converted to Islam in 1999, after attending a mosque with his future wife. His faith, he says, has helped him become a better actor: “It benefits me from the standpoint of really creating empathy for these characters that I try to embody, other human beings with issues as deep and personal as my own. Because of Islam, I am acutely aware that I am a work in progress.” The daily practice of the religion, he says, “puts a healthy pressure on you to be your best self, beginning with your own spirit and how that feeds into your actions.”
…We start talking about politics, which spins out into a wider discussion of what it means to be an American.“I think African-Americans have a very convoluted relationship with patriotism,” he says. “The fact is, we essentially were the abused child. We still love the parent, but you can’t overlook the fact that we have a very convoluted relationship with the parent. I absolutely love this country, but like so many people have some real questions and concerns about how things have gone down over the years and where we’re at. And that’s from a place of love, because I want the country to be what it says it is on paper.”
That’s just a taste of it, but the entire piece is very well-worth your time: it’s beautifully written, reflective, moving, and ultimately hopeful.
[Photos: Peggy Sirota exclusively for GQ]