Mahershala Ali's Wife Is An Accomplished Artist

by Allie Gemmill and Mallory Carra
Originally Published: 
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Mahershala Ali is now a two-time Oscar winner, but it's also worth knowing who Ali's wife, Amatus Sami-Karim is. As reported by Essence, Sami-Karim is an artist in her own right and is involved in many artistic pursuits, including music, composition, and acting. Sami-Karim is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Ali recalled first meeting her while they were NYU students during WYNC's Death, Sex, & Money podcast. “She’s extraordinarily intelligent, she’s about the right things, spiritually grounded, a beautiful person,” Ali told the podcast.

People reported that the couple has been married since 2013. They welcomed their first child, a daughter named Bari Najma Ali, on Feb. 22, 2017. Ali is known for his roles roles in House of Cards, The Hunger Games, Luke Cage, and Hidden Figures. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Moonlight and for playing Don Shirley in the 2018 movie Green Book. Sami-Karim also has an acting resume, which includes two short movies, called Girls Time and Jasmine, as listed on her IMDb page. In addition, Sami-Karim is also a musician. She released her debut EP, titled Broken Compass, in 2014. Her personal website, however, is no longer active, and her personal Instagram, which was once public, is now private.

Ali thanked his wife during her pregnancy in his Academy Award acceptance speech for Moonlight. “[She was] in her third trimester during award season, and we just had a daughter,” said the Hidden Figures star, raving, “I just want to thank her for being such a soldier through this process and really carrying me through it all.” Ali told The Guardian in January 2019 that having their child and winning his first Oscar within the same week was “was like a jigsaw puzzle which my wife and I had to try to put together. And as soon as we felt like we’d figured it out, it changed. It took a lot of listening to each other. Reacting. Every now and then we had to hit a tuning fork, to make sure we were in sync.”

In 2014, Ali to Elle magazine just how meaningful his relationship Sami-Karim was. "She and I have known each other for a really long time [about] 17 years. So, at this point, she's seen a big shift in things, but at the same time, she'll ground me real quick if I start feeling myself a little too much. She's very real, like, seriously."

One of the big shifts that Sami-Karim helped inspire Ali to convert to Islam, which Ali talked about on the Death, Sex, & Money podcast in 2016. During graduate school, Ali went to a mosque with his now-wife and mother-in-law. “I just had this really strong response where this prayer is resonating in my body, and I’m, like, crying,” he said on the podcast. “I woke up a week later, and I get up and I go, ‘I gotta go to the mosque.’ Long story short, I converted that day.”

With awards season on the horizon and Ali getting praise for his work in Moonlight, fans may be seeing plenty more of Sami-Karim on the red carpets, too.

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