Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Abdul-Mateen at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International
Born (1986-07-15) July 15, 1986 (age 35)
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BArch)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active2012–present
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (YAA-he-yaa[1] born July 15, 1986[2]) is an American actor. He is best known for portraying David Kane, the Black Manta in the DC Extended Universe superhero film Aquaman (2018), Bobby Seale in the Netflix historical legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) and Cal Abar in the HBO limited series Watchmen (2019). For the latter, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. He also starred in an episode of The Handmaid's Tale and Black Mirror.

After starring in the musical drama series The Get Down (2016–2017), broadcast on Netflix, Abdul-Mateen appeared in numerous films, including Baywatch (2017), The Greatest Showman (2017), Us (2019), and Candyman (2021).

Early life and education[edit]

Abdul-Mateen was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Muslim father, Yahya Abdul-Mateen I (died 2007),[3] and a Christian mother, Mary.[4][2] He is the youngest of six children.[5] He spent his childhood in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans, and then moved to Oakland, California,[6][7] where he attended McClymonds High School. At McClymonds, he was an athlete (he played against future NFL champion Marshawn Lynch)[8] and self-described geek who enjoyed chess. He was also prom king.[9]

During his time at the University of California, Berkeley, where he became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha[10] and competed as a hurdler for the California Golden Bears,[2] a teammate suggested he take a theater class; that class helped him overcome his stutter.[11] He graduated with a degree in architecture, and then worked as a city planner in San Francisco.[12] After being laid off from his job, he used the opportunity to apply to drama schools, in which he was accepted by New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Yale School of Drama;[3] he graduated from Yale with a Master of Fine Arts degree and worked as a stage actor.[7][13]


Early in his career, Abdul-Mateen was adamant about not altering his Muslim name nor using a stage name, countering the implications that having a Muslim name would impede his success rather than building a career on his acting abilities and confidence.[14] In 2016, Abdul-Mateen began his acting career with Baz Luhrmann's musical drama series The Get Down, which premiered on Netflix. His character Clarence "Cadillac" Caldwell is a prince of the disco world.[13] He was praised for his performance in the series.[6][15]

In 2017, Abdul-Mateen appeared in Shawn Christensen's drama film The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, in the role of Duane. It premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.[16]

Abdul-Mateen played a police officer, Garner Ellerbee, in the action comedy film Baywatch along with Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, and directed by Seth Gordon. The film was released on May 25, 2017.[17] He also played WD Wheeler, a smart hand-to-hand acrobat partner, in the musical film The Greatest Showman (2017), which also starred Efron, as well as with Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya, about American showman P.T. Barnum.[18]

In 2018, he starred in the road trip drama film Boundaries, along with Vera Farmiga and Christopher Plummer, directed and written by Shana Feste;[19] and played DC Comics villain Black Manta in the film Aquaman, which started shooting in May 2017 in Australia.[20] In 2018, Abdul-Mateen was cast in a flashback part as the main character's father in the horror film Us, directed by Jordan Peele, which was released in March 2019.[21]

In February 2019, it was confirmed that Abdul-Mateen was in talks to star in the Jordan Peele-produced Candyman reboot as the title character, with Nia DaCosta directing.[22] The film was released in theaters on August 27, 2021, to positive reviews.[23][24]

In March 2019, it was announced that Abdul-Mateen was cast in the fifth season of Netflix's science-fiction anthology series Black Mirror.[25] Later in the year, he played Cal Abar, known as Doctor Manhattan, in the HBO superhero drama miniseries Watchmen,[26] which earned him his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special in September 2020.[27]

Abdul-Mateen will star next in the role of Morpheus (presumed to be a younger version of the character[28]) in the upcoming film The Matrix Resurrections. The film is set to be released on December 22, 2021.[29]

Personal life[edit]

Abdul-Mateen lives in New York City.[5] After his father's death in 2007, Abdul-Mateen began researching his family history, explaining that "My father grew up and passed away with the longing to know where his father was from and about his father’s history."[30] His father had West Indian heritage, although the country of origin is unknown.[31]



Year Title Role Notes
2012 Crescendo Yahya Short film; also co-producer
2017 The Vanishing of Sidney Hall Duane Jones
Baywatch Sergeant Garner Ellerbee
The Greatest Showman W.D. Wheeler
2018 First Match Darrel
Boundaries Serge
Aquaman David Kane / Black Manta
2019 Us Russel Thomas / Weyland
Sweetness in the Belly Aziz
2020 All Day and a Night Big Stunna
The Trial of the Chicago 7 Bobby Seale Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Satellite Award for Best Ensemble – Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – AARP Movies for Grownups Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male
Nominated – Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Georgia Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Hollywood Critics Association Award for Best Cast Ensemble
Nominated – San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Nominated – Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
2021 Candyman Anthony McCoy
The Matrix Resurrections Morpheus[29] Post-production
2022 Ambulance Will Sharp Post-production
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom David Kane / Black Manta Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2016–2017 The Get Down Clarence "Cadillac" Caldwell 11 episodes
2018 The Handmaid's Tale Omar Episode: "Baggage"
2019 Black Mirror Karl Episode: "Striking Vipers"
Watchmen Cal Abar 8 episodes
Black Reel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie


  1. ^ Grant, Jasmine (December 16, 2019). "12 Facts You Didn't Know About Sexy 'Watchmen' Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II". Essence.
  2. ^ a b c "Yahya Abdul-Mateen - Track & Field". Cal Athletics. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Hirschberg, Lynn (October 27, 2020). "For Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Fame Comes With Responsibility". W Magazine.
  4. ^ Rubenstein, Janine (July 21, 2016). "Five Things to Know About Buzzy New Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II". People.
  5. ^ a b Buchanan, Kyle (August 27, 2021). "How 'Candyman' Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Became the Next Big Name". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b Hammer, Mike (August 6, 2016). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II shines in Netflix's 'The Get Down'". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Ortved, John (August 6, 2016). "Meet 'The Get Down' lead actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II". Gulf News. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  8. ^ Weiner, Jonah, LLC (August 14, 2021). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: How a Son of Oakland Became Hollywood's New Prince". Rolling Stone.
  9. ^ "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Worked As A City Planner Before Becoming An Actor". The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. October 20, 2020 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "Alpha Epsilon Lineage". Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Alpha Epsilon Chapter.
  11. ^ Bradley, Ryan (September 4, 2021). "Why Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Is the Actor to Know This Fall". WSJ.
  12. ^ Park, Andrea (August 19, 2016). "How "Get Down" star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II went from architecture to acting". CBS News. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Goldberg, Lesley (May 28, 2015). "Baz Luhrmann's 'The Get Down' Adds "Disco Prince" to Cast (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  14. ^ Christensen, Michael (October 24, 2021). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: 'My Name is Not the Name You'd Pick Out of a Hat'". GQ Middle East. GQ Worldwide.
  15. ^ Ali, Rasha (August 17, 2016). "'The Get Down' Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II on Disco, Hip Hop and Tilted Hats (Exclusive Video)". TheWrap. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Berkshire, Geoff (January 26, 2017). "Sundance Film Review: 'Sidney Hall'". Variety. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  17. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 2, 2016). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Dives Into 'Baywatch'; Jacob Latimore Joins 'Collateral Beauty'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  18. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 17, 2016). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Joins 'The Greatest Showman On Earth'; Dan Amboyer Cast In 'Brawl In Cell Block 99'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  19. ^ Hipes, Patrick (July 5, 2016). "Ryan Kwanten Joins 'Supercon'; 'The Get Down's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Books Pair". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  20. ^ Kit, Borys (January 31, 2017). "'Aquaman' Finds Its Black Manta Villain With 'Get Down' Actor (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  21. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (July 19, 2018). "Jordan Peele's 'Us' Adds Yahya Abdul-Mateen II And Anna Diop To Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  22. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 27, 2019). "Jordan Peele's 'Candyman' Finds Its Star (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  23. ^ Hughes, William. "Nia DaCosta's Candyman delayed until August 27, 2021". A.V. Club. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  24. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (September 11, 2020). "Nia DaCosta's 'Candyman' Release Delayed to 2021". Variety. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  25. ^ Petski, Denise (March 20, 2019). "'Black Mirror': Anthony Mackie & Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Cast In Season 5". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  26. ^ Petski, Denise (June 29, 2018). "'Watchmen': Yahya Abdul-Mateen II & Sara Vickers Cast In Damon Lindelof's HBO Pilot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  27. ^ Grobar, Matt (September 21, 2020). "'Watchmen's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Wins First Emmy, Dedicates It "To All Of The Black Women In My Life"". Deadline. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  28. ^ Child, Ben (June 25, 2021). "Take the red pill and hire Laurence: can the Matrix work without Fishburne's Morpheus?". The Guardian. There are hints that new cast member Yahya Abdul-Mateen II could end up playing a younger version of Morpheus.
  29. ^ a b "'The Matrix Resurrections': Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Reveals He's Playing Morpheus". Collider. September 9, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021. After the release of the trailer for The Matrix Resurrections, many long-time fans of the franchise have pondered what role Yahya Abdul-Mateen II would be playing, given his eerily similar appearance to Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus. Fans can now rest easy (or not, depending on your perspective), as the Candyman star has confirmed on Instagram that he is, in fact, taking over the role of Morpheus for the franchise’s fourth installment.
  30. ^ "12 Facts You Didn't Know About Sexy 'Watchmen' Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II". Essence. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  31. ^ Abdul-Mateen II, Yahya (August 11, 2020). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Has to Say Something". Men's Health. Hearst.

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