On this episode of The Tight Rope, Oscar-award winning actor Mahershala Ali opens up powerfully to our hosts Dr. Cornel West and Professor Tricia Rose about his life, his religion, his supporting role in Green Book, and his upcoming leading role in Blade. You won’t want to miss this fascinating, honest, and spiritual conversation with Mahershala. In Office Hours, Dr. West and Tricia remember Breonna Taylor and discuss the specific and collective loss felt about the decision to not charge the cops involved with her death on this episode of The Tight Rope.
Dr. Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University. A prominent democratic intellectual, social critic, and political activist, West also serves as Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. West has authored 20 books and edited 13. Most known for Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, West appears frequently on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span, and Democracy Now. West has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films, including Examined Life, and is the creator of three spoken word albums including Never Forget. West brings his focus on the role of race, gender, and class in American society to The Tight Rope podcast.
Professor Tricia Rose is Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. She also holds the Chancellor’s Professorship of Africana Studies and serves as the Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives. A graduate of Yale (B.A.) and Brown University (Ph.D), Rose authored Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (1994), Longing to Tell: Black Women Talk about Sexuality and Intimacy (2003), and The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop and Why It Matters (2008). She also sits on the Boards of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Color of Change, and Black Girls Rock, Inc. Focusing on issues relating to race in America, mass media, structural inequality, popular culture, gender and sexuality and art and social justice, Rose engages widely in scholarly and popular audience settings, and now also on The Tight Rope podcast.
Mahershala Ali is an awarding-winning actor, producer, and former rapper, known for his roles in House of Cards (2016), Moonlight (2016), Luke Cage (2016), True Detective (2019), and Ramy (2020). With a diverse range and incredible skill set, Ali has won numerous accolades, including the 2019 and 2017 Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Green Book and Moonlight, respectively. In 2019, Time magazine named Ali one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world.
Insight from this episode:
Behind-the-scenes look at Mahershala’s journey and conversion to Islam along with his experiences with his name in Hollywood and accepting his creator’s advice.
Reasons why Mahershala is so serious.
Honest reflections on why Mahershala said yes to his role in Green Book, how he prepared for that role, and his reflections and regrets after the fact.
Discussion on Mahershala’s upcoming role in Blade and his connection to Wesley Snipes.
Reflections on the power of the arts to empower people and to create imaginative spaces and new realities.
Quotes from the show:
“I was constantly in these environments where I was the “other.” In doing so, you become hyper-aware of your Blackness… I don’t think I ever allowed myself off the hook to necessarily relax and go, “Alright, I can kind of play around a little bit.” I always felt a certain pressure to keep certain things together.” –Mahershala Ali The Tight Rope Episode #19
“I’ve been very blessed in my life to have the right people at the right time filling in these spaces or at least giving me the in