Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

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Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was born July 15, 1986 and is an American actor.

Abdul-Mateen was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Muslim convert father, Yahya Abdul-Mateen I (1945–2007), and a Christian mother, Mary.

He is the youngest of six children. He spent his childhood in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans, and then moved to Oakland, California, where he attended McClymonds High School. At McClymonds, he was an athlete (he played against future NFL champion Marshawn Lynch) and self-described geek who enjoyed chess. He was also prom king. The family was eventually priced out of Oakland and moved to Stockton, California.

During his time at the University of California, Berkeley, where Mateen became initiated as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and competed as a hurdler for the California Golden Bears, a teammate suggested he take a theater class; that class helped him overcome his stutter. He graduated with a degree in architecture, and then worked as a city planner in San Francisco. 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, the Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University, and Yale School of Drama; he graduated from Yale with a Master of Fine Arts degree and worked as a stage actor.

Early in his career, Abdul-Mateen was adamant about not altering his Muslim name or using a stage name, countering the implications that having a Muslim name would impede his success. 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.

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.

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. 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.

In 2018, he starred in the road trip drama film Boundaries, and played DC Comics villain Black Manta in the film Aquaman, which started shooting in May 2017 in Australia. 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. 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. The film was released in theaters in August 2021.

In March 2019, it was announced that Abdul-Mateen was cast in the fifth season of Netflix’s science-fiction anthology series Black Mirror. Later in the year, he played Cal Abar, known as Doctor Manhattan, in the HBO superhero drama miniseries Watchmen.

Abdul-Mateen starred in the role of Morpheus (an alternate version of the character) in the film The Matrix Resurrections.