American actor Mahershalalhashbaz Ali was born as Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore February 16, 1974 in Oakland, California. A member of the Ahmadiyya Muslin community, he got his name from the Bible; his name is Hebrew for “to speed the spoil, he hasteneth the prey.” He first trained as an actor during his junior year at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, before eventually taking his master’s degree in acting at the State University of New York. He started acting on stage, debuting in school productions before moving on to the professional stage. Fresh off college, he joined as an apprentice for the California Shakespeare Festival.
Ali made his television debut in 2002, when he played conservative medical examiner Trey Sanders on the drama Crossing Jordan. He left after the first season, and his departure was not explained on the program. His next television starring role was in the short-lived action series Threat Matrix. He also played guest roles in different television programs, such as Haunted, NYPD Blue, CSI and The Handler. He also made his film debut in 2003, playing the lead in the obscure comedy Making Revolution.
Ali’s latest television role was a starring role in the science fiction series The 4400. He plays the role of Richard Tyler, an Air Force pilot who was abducted in 1951 and returned with the power of telekinesis, which only manifested itself much later, leaving him to think that he is one of the 4400 who returned without powers. Aside from acting Ali, is also a rapper, having collaborated with artists such as Talib Kweli, Keith Murray and Planet Asia.