Yahya Abdul-Mateen II says he was asked to change his name before starting his acting career.
From Black Mirror, The Watchmen, Aquaman, and more, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has been taking over Hollywood, and his next big film is Nia DaCosta’s “Candyman.” While Abdul-Mateen is quickly becoming a household name, initially, he was told to change it.
“My father [Yahya Abdul-Mateen] prayed for his parents every day and took them along the journey with them,” he said during an interview with GQ Middle East. “I can only hope to do the same, and one way I can do that is by holding on to the second [in my name] because that means you have to acknowledge the first too: my father.” He says some of the name change suggestions were Yahya Mateen, or just Yahya on its own, NME reports.
“My name is not the name you’d pick out of a hat – Yahya Abdul-Mateen the second is no John Wayne, it’s not traditionally the guy at the top of the billing. And that’s why it’s so inspiring to people. I get messages all the time saying, ‘Thank you, brother, for representing for us Muslims. I was thinking about changing my name, but now that I see you, I’ll never change it,’” Abdul-Mateen II said. “For a lot of aspiring actors and artists around the world, America is the destination, the comparison. So to have my name at the top of the billing on my own for Candyman, right up there on Aquaman, and next to Keanu Reeves in a big production like The Matrix is huge. To be validated, to hold my own, and to go on talk shows where they say my entire name, that’s inspiring.”
Abdul-Mateen II is also set to appear in a lead role for the “The Matrix 4” and Netflix’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”