Mahershala Ali won the best supporting actor prize for his turn as a drug dealer with a heart in coming of age drama Moonlight while Viola Davis took the supporting actress statuette for her work in family drama Fences.
The wins for Davis, who co-starred in Denzel Washington’s August Wilson adaptation Fences, and Mahershala Ali, the Moonlight co-star, were both widely expected. Their awards marked the first time in more than a decade that multiple Oscar acting honours went to black actors.
“I became an artist, and thank god I did, because we are the only profession to celebrate what it means to live a life,” said Davis, the best supporting actress winner. “So here’s to August Wilson, who exhumed and exalted the ordinary people.”