From a cutthroat Hollywood executive, to a high profile political figure, and a villain set in a dark fantasy world, Obie Award-winning actor Usman Ally can be seen in some of the most talked about projects on television this year and he isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Ally was most recently seen as The Hook Handed Man, head of Count Olaf's (Neil Patrick Harris) henchmen in "A Series of Unfortunate Events" for Netflix. Based on the best selling books by Lemony Snicket, the series follows the tragic tale of three orphans who are investigating their parents' mysterious death. They are saddled with an evil guardian, Count Olaf (Harris), and must outsmart him and his group (Ally) at every turn. "A Series of Unfortunate Events" premiered in January 2017. Next, Ally can be seen in TV Land's brand new comedy series "Nobodies," set to premiere on March 29. Executive Produced by Melissa McCarthy, the semi-autobiographical series centers on three friends in Hollywood desperate to rise to fame together after seeing their friends and fellow sketch comedy troupe alums make it big. Ally shines as Gavin, an executive from a major studio in Hollywood who makes it his mission in life to destroy the three "nobodies." Ally return to comedy again this spring for season six of the award-winning, HBO series "Veep" reprising his role as Ambassador Al Jaffar, opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Originally introduced in season five as the representative from Qatar who helps Selina Meyer (Dreyfus) negotiate a deal with the Chinese over Tibet, Jaffar returns for season six in a much larger capacity.
It was recently announced that Ally joined the cast of Dwayne Johnson's YouTube series "Lifeline," a half hour series about a little known life insurance company that sends its agents forward 33 days in time to prevent the accidental deaths of its clients. Some of his additional credits include recurring roles on "Just Add Magic" for Amazon (the series returned in July 2017), "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", "Damages," and "Madame Secretary" with guest star roles on "Blue Bloods," "Boss," "The Player," "Chicago Code," "Mind Games," "Person of Interest," "Castle," and "Blindspot," to name a few. On the film front Ally has been seen in "Star Trek Into Darkness" (Paramount), and indies "Love Meet Hope," "Misled," and "Just Like a Woman."
Born in Swaziland, Ally lived in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Pakistan for the first 18 years of his life. He moved to the United States to attend college at Lewis and Clark in Portland, majoring in Theatre and Cultural Anthropology. He went on to receive his MFA Magna Cum Laude in Acting from the University of Florida. Upon graduation Ally moved to Chicago, where he got his start in the business working in theatre. He has performed at some of the most reputable theaters around the country, and is most known for originating several lead roles in award winning plays. These include 'Bagheera' in Disney's Jungle Book (IRNE Award for Best Actor in a Musical), 'Amir' in Disgraced (Jeff Nomination Best Actor), and 'VP' in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Top 10 Performances of the year). He most recently appeared as "Bashir" in The Invisible Hand at New York Theatre Workshop, a role that garnered him a Lucille Lortel Nomination for Best Actor, A Drama League Nomination for Best Actor, and an Obie Award for Outstanding Performance. Additional accolades include receiving the Fox Foundation Grant for Actors of Extraordinary Potential in 2010.
Ally currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
Awards Obie Award for Outstanding Performance 2015 (The Invisible Hand) Best Actor in a Musical. 2014 Irne Award. (The Jungle Book) Nomination for Best Actor 2012 Joseph Jefferson Awards (Disgraced) Nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor 2015 Lucille Lortel Awards (The Invisible Hand) Nomination for Distinguished Performance by a Lead Actor 2015 Drama League Awards (The Invisible Hand)
A Series of Unfortunate Events
When he arrived on set, Ally was told by Barry Sonnenfeld to play Fernald as the "scary guy", but he quickly tried to find ways to make the character more interesting and dynamic, and decided to establish him as Olaf's "right-hook man", and a conduit between Olaf and the rest of the troupe, as he sees the troupe as his family; Ally says that Fernald's desire to be part of a family was an important part of his journey.
Ally thought of him as having a great debt of gratitude towards Count Olaf which resulted in him loving Olaf. Early in Season 2, he told Neil Patrick Harris, "You know my character's in love with you, right?" Harris responded, "Yeah, I kinda suspected that, that's great," and they decided to play with that.
Ally was grateful to be able to play Fernald as a funny character, as it was rare for an actor of color to get a comedic role that didn't rely on their ethnicity or accent. He was thrilled to be seen as inspiration and representation for other people from around the world, and says that the cast and crew of the show has a place in his heart.
|2009||Chicago Overcoat||Pawnshop Owner|
|2012||Just Like a Woman||Ousman|
|2013||Star Trek Into Darkness||U.S.S. Vengeance Officer|
|2016||Love Meet Hope||Andrew|
|2011||The Chicago Code||Abrahm||One Episode|
|2014||Mind Games||Charles||One Episode|
|2014||Person of Interest||Jamal Risha||One Episode|
|2014-2015||Madam Secretary||Zahed Javani|
|2015||Castle||Bilal Khan||One Episode|
|2015||The Player||Hamid||One Episode|
|2015||Brooklyn Animal Control||Lawyer||One Episode|
|2016||Helen & Grace||Coach|
|2016||Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.||Vincent|
|2016||The Librarians||Security Lt. Becker||One Episode|
|2016-2017||Veep||Mohammed Ai Jaffar|
|2017||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Morsi Driver||One Episode|
|2018||Just Add Magic||Mr. Morris|
|2017-2018||Mike Tyson Mysteries||Prince Abdur Al Farooq / Raji|
|2017-2019||A Series of Unfortunate Events||Hook-Handed Man|
|2019||Better Things||Dr. Babu||One Episode|
|2019||On Becoming a God in Central Florida||Stan Van Grundegaard|
|2020||68 Whiskey||Capt. Hazara|