Mahershala Ali was in Toronto to promote his latest filmic venture Green Book, directed by Peter Farrelly. The film centers on an NYC bouncer getting a job as a classical pianist’s chauffeur. Together the two characters forge a close bond and set aside their racial prejudice. I gather Mahershala Ali went into greater detail about the film during his Toronto International Film Festival appearance.

Ali sat with Amanda Parris to discuss his métier and other subjects in rather elaborate Q&A format. Parris even asked Mahershala to spit some bars. She’d learned of his interest in poetry through a friend of a friend of a friend.

Parris, the TV Host of CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, challenged Mahershala Ali to break out of his shyness by delivering some bars of her own (off-camera). With even odds, Ali had little recourse but to start rapping himself, and so he did at the tap of his foot. Ali borrowed heavily from his literary background. He presented imagery in lieu of creating an ostensible narrative flow: the Bay Bridge setting, the Tower Falls of London and a “checkbook of contortions.” His 2nd verse was far less ambiguous or poetic, so to speak.

Mahershala’s comes from a letter writing background, his father performed on Broadway, and he graduated with a degree in communications before breaking out as an actor. What do you think of his written skills?