The award will be presented Jan. 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Ali has been nominated for a SAG Award, a Golden Globe and has received an NAACP Image Award nomination.
“Mahershala Ali is one of the most in-demand actors in film and television,” said Harold Matzner, the festival’s chairman. “Ali gives one of the best supporting performances of the year in ‘Moonlight’ as Juan, a Miami drug dealer who opens his doors to Little when he sees the boy being chased through the streets by a gang.”
Past recipients of the Breakthrough Performance Award include Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Hudson, Felicity Huffman, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike and Jeremy Renner. Cotillard, Hudson, Larson and Nyong’o went on to receive Academy Awards while Huffman, Pike and Renner received nominations.
Ali can be seen in the Netflix series “Luke Cage” and “House of Cards.” Feature credits include “Free State of Jones,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
He also stars in the upcoming “Hidden Figures” and “Roxanne,” which will premiere at the 2017 Sundance Festival and will appear in “Alita: Battle Angel” in 2018.