The Screen Actors Guild Awards winner didn't know much about his dad's career growing up, but he is beginning to piece together what he achieved after winning a Soul Train dance-off in 1977 from old photos and letters he keeps coming across in the back of picture frames and other keepsakes.

"I found this letter from Johnson & Johnson," Ali explains. "I was cleaning up my storage unit and it was behind this old teen basketball photo of me.

"It was a framed letter talking about the $2,500 and this red Starsky & Hutch looking sports car that he won, telling him to be responsible with his earnings. I was three at the time and he ended up moving to New York and got into The Dance Theater of Harlem immediately. He ended up doing Dreamgirls (on Broadway) and all these shows, so there were times I didn't see him for a couple of years at a time, because he was touring the world.

"As proud as I was recognising him running by in the Prince of Tides in the background and see him get water out of the water fountain in Working Girl, between gigs just to make money and keep food on the table, I also found this card while cleaning out my storage, a postcard he gave to a casting director, back in the '90s.

"He had taken this picture with his shirt off and he was flexing and had this awesome pose. But on the back of that postcard it said, 'Hey mom, still trying to be that leading man!' He's been deceased since 1994 but seeing that inspired me and really made me feel like I picked up that baton."