Yahya Abdul-Mateen II explains how his father influenced his acting career

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II says his father played a huge role in inspiring his acting career.

In an interview with W Magazine, the star of Aquaman and the forthcoming The Matrix 4 described himself as an “impressionable” young boy who wanted nothing more than to be like his father.

“When I was 5, I was shopping with my mom and saw a man with a utility tool belt. He said, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said, ‘I want to be a construction worker like my father,"” said Yahya.

Instead, he said his father pushed him to be an architect. When Abdul-Mateen got older, he attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he later received a degree in architecture. 

While there, Abdul-Mateen said a friend suggested that he take a theater class, where he auditioned with a Ving Rhames speech from the popular film, Baby Boy. “I did an exact impression because I thought acting was like that,” he explained. “You do it just like them. But it worked. I got in.”

After his father’s death in 2007, Abdul-Mateen said he took some time off before returning to school and learning to live with no “regrets.”

“I didn’t want to have any regrets,” he said. “I didn’t want to tell anyone, but I started taking acting class at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco on Wednesday nights. I knew it was rebellious to pursue acting, but I also knew I had to try…that life is short.”

After a critically-acclaimed role in Netflix’s The Trial of the Chicago 7 and his Emmy-winning role on HBO’s Watchmen, Yahya Abdul-Mateen hopes to continue making an impact by creating roles that “could change things or make someone see the world differently.”

By Rachel George
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