Yahya’s name has a connection to Islam.
The 33-year-old actor has starred in a string of hits, including Baywatch, The Greatest Showman, Aquaman, Us, and, most recently, Watchmen as Dr. Manhattan.
Not only is he insanely talented (and equally handsome), but the burgeoning star is also set to play the lead in the upcoming sequel to 1992’s Candyman.
Ahead of the film’s release, which was originally scheduled for June 12 but was pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic, Yahya spoke with GQ Middle East about his rise to fame and how he was once asked to change his Muslim name.
According to the outlet, the incident happened early on in his career, when the New Orleans native was just starting out in Hollywood. Yahya recalled being asked to drop “Abdul” and “II” from his name and go by Yahya Mateen or simply Yahya.
But his name, which he got from his father, represents a prophet in Islam of the same name and meant more than just a simple moniker to the actor.
“My father [Yahya Abdul-Mateen] prayed for his parents every day and took them along the journey with them,” he recalled. “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 continued, “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.”
He shared, “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.'”
Yahya added, “To be validated, to hold my own, and to go on talk shows where they say my entire name, that’s inspiring.”
I doubt there will be anyone who isn’t saying his name after Candyman finally hits theaters.
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