The 2017 Academy Awards were bittersweet for newly minted Best Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali

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When film legend Warren Beatty read La La Land as the Best Picture winner at this year’s ceremony—instead of his own film, Moonlight—Ali admitted that he felt happy for his Oscar competition.

La La Land has done so well and it’s resonated with so many people, especially in this time when people need a sense of buoyancy in their life,” he told reporters in the press room immediately after the ceremony.

“That film has really impacted people in a very different way than Moonlight, so when their name was read, I wasn’t surprised—I was really happy for them. It’s a group of really extraordinary people.”

However, the hurried commotion on the stage soon alerted him to the fact that something had gone badly wrong.

“When I did see security or people coming out on stage and their moment was being disrupted in some way, I got really worried,” he admits.

“And then when they said Moonlight wins, it just threw me a bit. It threw me more than a bit! I just didn’t want to go up there and take something from somebody. It’s very hard to feel joy in a moment like that, but I feel very fortunate for all of us to have walked away with the Best Picture award. It’s pretty remarkable.”

  • With reporting by GABRIELLE OLYA