Candyman actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has revealed he was asked to change his name when he began his career in Hollywood.
The US star, who is also due to appear in The Matrix 4 and Netflix‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7, spoke in a new interview about representing Muslim people and staying authentic.
Abdul-Mateen II recalled to GQ Middle East that he was asked early on in his career to change his name to Yahya Mateen, or just Yahya on its own, though was adamant he would never consider the option.
“My father [Yahya Abdul-Mateen] prayed for his parents every day and took them along the journey with them,” he said. “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.”
“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. 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.’
“For a lot of aspiring actors and artists around the world, America is the destination, the comparison,” he continued. “So to have my name at the top of the billing on my own for Candyman, right up there on Aquaman, and next to Keanu Reeves in a big production like The Matrix is huge. To be validated, to hold my own, and to go on talk shows where they say my entire name, that’s inspiring.”
Last year, Abdul-Mateen II was cast in a lead role for The Matrix 4, and also appeared in HBO’s Watchmen series and Jordan Peele’s Us.