Birthdate : July 15, 1986
Birthplace : New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Few actors in recent years have enjoyed such a rapid career trajectory as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Fresh from his graduate work at the Yale School of Drama, he was picked by Baz Luhrmann for the colorful role of disco king Cadillac in The Get Down. He has since racked up an astonishing range of roles with meteoric speed. He worked alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Baywatch (2017), as well as Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya in The Greatest Showman (2017).
Abdul-Mateen then made a strong impression as the evil Black Manta in DC Comics’ Aquaman (2018), opposite Jason Momoa, followed by powerful turns in a supporting role in Jordan Peele’s Us (2019); as Doctor Manhattan in the acclaimed HBO series, Watchmen (2019), which earned him a Supporting Actor Emmy in a Limited Series or Special; as Bobby Seale in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020); and as a besieged painter in the Jordan Peele-produced Candyman sequel (2021).
Yahya Abdul-Mateen capped a very busy 2021 appearing as Morpheus in the reboot of the Matrix series, The Matrix Resurrections. In 2022, Abdul-Mateen increased his profile co-starring above the title with Jake Gyllenhaal in Michael Bay’s Ambulance. He’s reviving his Black Manta persona in James Wan’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023). Yahya Abdul-Mateen is scheduled to star and produce a limited series adaptation of Blitz Bazawule’s The Scent of Burnt Flowers, and Austin-set action movie Emergency Contact, with producer partner Dwayne Johnson.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, a New Orleans native, was raised by Yahya Abdul-Mateen, who was a Muslim convert, and Mary, a practicing Christian. He has five siblings. The family moved to Oakland, and later to Stockton, Calif. He grew up with a stutter, which he overcame in a drama class at UC Berkeley, where he competed on the track team.
With an architecture degree, Abdul-Mateen worked as a city planner in San Francisco’s Housing and Development Office but switched to studying drama after a layoff. He earned his MFA at Yale University’s School of Drama, which he selected after being accepted by Harvard University’s Institute for Advanced Theater Training and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Abdul-Mateen’s height is 6’ 3”.
When I Grow Up…: Yahya Abdul-Mateen says that, from age 5, he had wanted to be an architect when he grew up.
BMOC: Abdul-Mateen was voted his high school’s Prom King.
Give Me My Name: As a young actor, Abdul-Mateen insisted on keeping his Muslim name, despite warnings that it would make him commercially non-viable.
Say It Right: His first name is correctly pronounced, “Yah-he-ya,” not “Yah-yah.”
Movable Feast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen doesn’t own a permanent residence, and has lived in eight different residences since his 2015 graduation from the Yale School of Drama.
Easy-peasy: Ten days after graduating from Yale, Abdul-Mateen was cast in Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down.
Strange timing: Yahya Abdul-Mateen filmed his courtroom scenes for The Trial of the Chicago 7 on the 50th anniversary of the murder of Seale’s colleague, Black Panther activist Fred Hampton.
AKA: Abdul-Mateen’s nickname is Bug.