Famous SMC Alum visits for Q&A
By Kiera O’Hara-Heinz
On Friday, February 25, 2022, Academy Award Winning actor and SMC Alumni Mahershala Ali visited Saint Mary’s LeFevre Theatre and engaged with students in a Q&A following a screening of his new film, Swan Song. Ali spoke about finding balance and fulfillment in life and shared some fun anecdotes about his time at Saint Mary’s.
Swan Song, the film Ali came to speak about, follows the journey of a man who faces the option of cloning himself as a replacement for his family after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The film beautifully addresses the concepts of death, memory, and closure in sensitive, yet innovative ways.
The theater was crowded, with the audience chattering in anticipation before Ali came on stage. The Q&A portion of the event was led by Saint Mary’s senior Anahi Torres, who engaged Ali in playful banter and asked a number of thoughtful prompting questions.
Torres began the Q&A by asking Ali what his favorite part of the film was. He shared that the message he took away from Swan Song was that although we may not have the option to clone ourselves, like the protagonist in the film, Cameron, we do have an option to take control of our lives.
“I believe each and every one of us has a Jack, a potential that is ready to be manifested,” Ali shared. The rest of his advice took on this theme of balance and living a fulfilling life. Torres acknowledged Ali’s fame and success as an actor and asked him how his time at Saint Mary’s contributed to his success.
He shared that he looks at “being successful as being whole, being fulfilled, being balanced.” This balance is something he attributes to his time at Saint Mary’s where he demonstrated he was more than just a basketball player and made an effort to foster other hobbies on campus like DJing a radio show with KSMC, writing poetry, and acting.
Before opening the Q&A up to audience questions, Dr. Evette Castillo Clark, Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, teased Ali that she would be testing his memory of the names of all the resident halls he lived in during his time at SMC. Ali went on to share an anecdote about his first night of college in Justin Hall when the fire alarm went off after someone put a firecracker in his room that lit the curtains on fire. The story made many students laugh, and Castillo Clark acknowledged that late-night fire alarms are a near-universal experience at SMC.
The event ended with questions from the audience and two students were able to ask for career advice from Ali, who shared that he is always trying to find things that wake him up and excite him.
Madison Sciba '24,