Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (/ˈjɑːhiə/;[1] born July 15, 1986[2]) is an American actor. He portrayed David Kane, the Black Manta in the DC Extended Universe Aquaman films and Bobby Seale in the Netflix historical legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7. For his portrayal of Cal Abar in the HBO limited series Watchmen, 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.

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 36)
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BArch)
Yale University (MFA)
Years active2012–present

Abdul-Mateen portrayed incarnations of Morpheus and Agent Smith in The Matrix Resurrections.

Early life and educationEdit

Abdul-Mateen was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Muslim convert father, Yahya Abdul-Mateen I (1945–2007),[3][4] and a Christian mother, Mary.[5][2] He is the youngest of six children.[6] He spent his childhood in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans, and then moved to Oakland, California,[7][8] where he attended McClymonds High School. At McClymonds, he was an athlete (he played against future NFL champion Marshawn Lynch)[9] and self-described geek who enjoyed chess. He was also prom king.[10] The family was eventually priced out of Oakland and moved to Stockton, California.[9]

During his time at the University of California, Berkeley, where Mateen became initiated as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha[11] 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.[12] He graduated with a degree in architecture, and then worked as a city planner in San Francisco.[13] 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;[4] he graduated from Yale with a Master of Fine Arts degree and worked as a stage actor.[8][14]


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.[15] In 2016, Abdul-Mateen began his acting career with Stephen Adly Guirgis and 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.[14] He was praised for his performance in the series.[7][16]

Abdul-Mateen in 2017

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.[17]

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.[18] 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, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya, about American showman P.T. Barnum.[19]

In 2018, he starred in the road trip drama film Boundaries, along with Vera Farmiga and Christopher Plummer, directed and written by Shana Feste;[20] and played DC Comics villain Black Manta in the film Aquaman, which started shooting in May 2017 in Australia.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] The film was released in theaters on August 27, 2021, to positive reviews.[24][25]

In March 2019, it was announced that Abdul-Mateen was cast in the fifth season of Netflix's science-fiction anthology series Black Mirror.[26] Later in the year, he played Cal Abar, known as Doctor Manhattan, in the HBO superhero drama miniseries Watchmen,[27] which earned him his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special in September 2020.[28]

Abdul-Mateen starred in the role of Morpheus (an alternate version of the character[29]) in the film The Matrix Resurrections.

Personal lifeEdit

Abdul-Mateen lives in New York City.[6] 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]


  Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Director Notes
2017 The Vanishing of Sidney Hall Duane Jones Shawn Christensen
Baywatch Sergeant Garner Ellerbee Seth Gordon
The Greatest Showman W.D. Wheeler Michael Gracey
2018 First Match Darrel Olivia Newman
Boundaries Serge Shana Feste
Aquaman David Kane / Manta James Wan
2019 Us Russel Thomas / Weyland Jordan Peele
Sweetness in the Belly Aziz Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
2020 All Day and a Night Big Stunna Joe Robert Cole
The Trial of the Chicago 7 Bobby Seale Aaron Sorkin 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 and Candyman Nia DaCosta Critics' Choice Super Award for Best Actor in a Horror Movie

Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Lead Performance

The Matrix Resurrections Morpheus / Smith[32] Lana Wachowski
2022 Ambulance Will Sharp Michael Bay
2023 Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom   David Kane / Black Manta James Wan Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2016–2017 The Get Down Clarence "Cadillac" Caldwell Main role, 11 episodes
2018 The Handmaid's Tale Omar 1 episode
2019 Black Mirror Karl Episode: "Striking Vipers"
2019 Watchmen Cal Abar Miniseries, 8 episodes
Recipient of 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. ^ "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Plays Explain That Gram". BuzzFeed UK. August 23, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "Yahya Abdul-Mateen - Track & Field". Cal Athletics. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  3. ^ Abdul-Mateen II, Yahya (August 11, 2020). "'Don't Feel Guilty for Laughing and Feeling Joy'". Men's Health. Retrieved December 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b Hirschberg, Lynn (October 27, 2020). "For Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Fame Comes With Responsibility". W Magazine.
  5. ^ Rubenstein, Janine (July 21, 2016). "Five Things to Know About Buzzy New Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II". People.
  6. ^ a b Buchanan, Kyle (August 27, 2021). "How 'Candyman' Star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Became the Next Big Name". The New York Times.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b Ortved, John (August 6, 2016). "Meet 'The Get Down' lead actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II". Gulf News. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Weiner, Jonah, LLC (August 14, 2021). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II: How a Son of Oakland Became Hollywood's New Prince". Rolling Stone.
  10. ^ "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Worked As A City Planner Before Becoming An Actor". The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. October 20, 2020 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Alpha Epsilon Lineage". Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Alpha Epsilon Chapter.
  12. ^ Bradley, Ryan (September 4, 2021). "Why Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Is the Actor to Know This Fall". WSJ.
  13. ^ Park, Andrea (August 19, 2016). "How "Get Down" star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II went from architecture to acting". CBS News. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Berkshire, Geoff (January 26, 2017). "Sundance Film Review: 'Sidney Hall'". Variety. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  18. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 2, 2016). "Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Dives Into 'Baywatch'; Jacob Latimore Joins 'Collateral Beauty'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Kit, Borys (January 31, 2017). "'Aquaman' Finds Its Black Manta Villain With 'Get Down' Actor (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 27, 2019). "Jordan Peele's 'Candyman' Finds Its Star (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  24. ^ Hughes, William. "Nia DaCosta's Candyman delayed until August 27, 2021". A.V. Club. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  25. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (September 11, 2020). "Nia DaCosta's 'Candyman' Release Delayed to 2021". Variety. Retrieved September 11, 2020.
  26. ^ Petski, Denise (March 20, 2019). "'Black Mirror': Anthony Mackie & Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Cast In Season 5". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Child, Ben (June 25, 2021). "Take the red pill and hire Laurence: can the Matrix work without Fishburne's Morpheus?". The Guardian.
  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.
  32. ^ "'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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External linksEdit