The victory marks Ali's second Oscar for the same category-he won for his performance in 2017's "Moonlight".
Before he started winning Oscars, Ali, who is from Oakland, California, played Division I college basketball at St. Mary's on a basketball scholarship. St. Mary's went 12-15 that season. His mother, Willicia Gilmore, is an ordained Christian minister.
"I got a call from Mahershala Ali, a very, very respectful phone call, from him personally".
His breakout role was that of Remy Danton on Netflix's House of Cards, and he also landed the part of Colonel Boggs in The Hunger Games franchise.
Diversity was one of the biggest winners at the Oscars on Sunday, with three out of the four top acting awards won by non-white actors as Regina King, Mahershala Ali and Rami Malek triumphed for their roles in If Beale Street Could Talk, Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody, respectively.
The feel-good movie, which is based on a true story, follows the black musician Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his racist, white chauffeur Tony "Lip" Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as they drive through the segregated South in 1962.
Lee tried to storm out of the Dolby Theatre just after "Green Book" was announced the victor at the end of the Oscar show, according to various media accounts, then came back to his seat, where he turned his back on the stage during "Green Book" acceptance speeches.
Shirley's family objected to how he was portrayed in the film, particularly the notion that Shirley was estranged from his relatives.
Farrelly in January apologized for his actions two decades ago, and Ali has said he respects Shirley's family and has spoken with them.
Despite the controversy, Oscars voters loved Green Book.
"We have all the respect in the world for the guy", Currie said.