Bay Area native Mahershala Ali, better known as Remy Danton from the popular Neflix series 'House of Cards,' delivered an emotional speech Saturday to Saint Mary's College of California graduates.
The Saint Mary's alum, who hails from Oakland, shared vignettes from his life, occasionally wiping away tears, and encouraged the graduates to be patient and always rise above discouragement.
"You have the capacity to leave a lasting impact and indelible impression upon this world as evidenced by this day, your right of passage," Ali told the graduating class of 2016. "Claim the sacred spaces of your minds; nurture and cultivate a vision of fulfillment; and move toward that destiny with patience, perseverance, and prayer."
Ali dreamed of playing college basketball since he was a young boy, but said that his future took a turn when his big mouth and extroverted personality were noticed by a play producer during his sophomore year of college. Ali was given a part in the "House of Blue Leaves" production and two years later, a casting call in a play called "Spunk" blossomed into an acting career that he admittedly never saw coming.
"In terms of college productions, the play was a huge success — standing room only," Ali said.
That fateful play prompted Ali to walk away from his basketball dreams and embark on an impressive acting career, which includes roles in 'House of Cards' and the second instalment of 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.'
Success, however, has been accompanied by a slew of personal challenges, Ali recounted, challenging graduates to stay the course no matter the naysayers.
"But when you let go of your dream, your passions, and embrace discouragement, that is perhaps initiated by another's inability to see your value and potential — you have failed yourself," he said. "It's an act of treason."
Ali returns to the big screen this month in the film 'The Free State of Jones.'