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

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ( /ˈjɑːhiə/ ; [1] born July 15, 1986 [2] ) is an American actor. He is known for his roles as Black Manta in the superhero films Aquaman (2018) and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023), Bobby Seale in the Netflix historical legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), and Morpheus / Agent Smith in The Matrix Resurrections (2021). For his portrayal of Cal Abar / Doctor Manhattan in the HBO limited series Watchmen (2019), he won a Primetime Emmy Award. He also starred in episodes of The Handmaid's Tale (2018) and Black Mirror (2019).


He made his Broadway debut in the Suzan-Lori Parks play Topdog/Underdog for which he received a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play nomination.

He is currently set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring as the lead in the Disney+ series, Wonder Man.

Early life and education

Abdul-Mateen was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a Muslim 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 Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Eva Rinaldi Photography (2) (34602039651).jpg
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 .

From September 2022 to January 2023, he made his Broadway theatre debut in the revival of the Suzan-Lori Parks play Topdog/Underdog alongside Corey Hawkins, which earned him a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Play.

In October 2022, it was announced that Abdul-Mateen was cast in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Disney+ series Wonder Man as the titular character. [30] [31]

Personal life

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." [32] His father had West Indian heritage, although the country of origin is unknown. [33]


Dagger-14-plain.pngDenotes works that have not yet been released


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
2021 Candyman Anthony McCoy and Candyman Nia DaCosta
The Matrix Resurrections Morpheus / Smith [34] Lana Wachowski
2022 Ambulance Will Sharp Michael Bay
2023 Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Dagger-14-plain.pngDavid Kane / Black MantaJames WanPost-production


2016–2017 The Get Down Clarence "Cadillac" CaldwellMain role, 11 episodes
2018 The Handmaid's Tale OmarEpisode: "Baggage"
2019 Black Mirror KarlEpisode: "Striking Vipers"
Watchmen Cal Abar Miniseries, 8 episodes
TBA Wonder Man Dagger-14-plain.png Simon Williams / Wonder Man Main role


2022–2023 Topdog / Underdog Booth John Golden Theatre, Broadway debut


YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResultRef.
2020 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series Watchmen Won [35]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Won [36]
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Ensemble The Trial of the Chicago 7 Runner-up [37]
2021 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Ensemble Nominated [38]
Austin Film Critics Association Awards Best Ensemble Nominated [39]
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male Nominated [40]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Acting Ensemble Won [41]
Detroit Film Critics Society Awards Best Ensemble Nominated [42]
Georgia Film Critics Association Awards Best EnsembleNominated [43]
Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards Best Cast EnsembleNominated [44]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Ensemble Runner-up [45]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won [46]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Acting Ensemble Nominated [47]
2022 Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Actor in a Horror Movie Candyman Won [48]
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Lead PerformanceWon [49]
2023 Drama League Awards Distinguished Performance Topdog/Underdog Nominated [50]
Theatre World Awards Outstanding Debut Performance in a Broadway or Off-Broadway ProductionWon [51]
Tony Awards Best Leading Actor in a Play Pending [52]

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