Ladies and ladies: if you aren't familiar, let me introduce you to a being named Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. He's an Emmy award-winning actor, 35, and towering at 6 feet 3 inches tall. His name, which roughly translates from Arabic and means "Graced by God," may be unfamiliar for Black men in Hollywood, but he's carving out his lane just the same.
The actor's first leading role is in the highly anticipated Candyman (in theaters August 27), as well as The Matrix 4, the newest installment in the Matrix franchise, and action flick, Ambulance, next year.
So needless to say, Yahya is booked, busy, and here to stay.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II recently hooked up with ESSENCE for their 'Summer Screen Kings' July/August 2021 dual cover issue (alongside Jazmine Sullivan), to discuss what really drew him to acting, his definition of sexy and whether a rom-com is next on his list of achievements (please, universe?!). Ultimately, we walked away with hella gems because as you all know, we love to get the male's perspective from time to time.
Our favorite highlights of the interview are below!
On how his curiosity drew him into acting:
According to Yahya, acting kind of...just...happened.
"I wasn't itching to be a star or anything like that. I wasn't thinking about movies or television. I just started following my curiosity…I got here by staying curious, by staying humble, and also knowing that there's so much more that I want to do...I think I've done a lot on other people's terms. I've been able to step into projects that were already written before my name was attached, and I'm so thankful that I was able to step in and support those projects. But now I'm at a place where I'm looking to come into rooms with my own ideas, and develop those ideas and tell my own stories. I think that's the next chapter..."
On what it means to be sexy:
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Yahya is easy on the eyes. But the Watchmen actor says don't ask him about it, ask yourself what you see when you look at him.
"I don't think sexy tries. Ease is sexy. It's nice to have a little bit of mystery, and if I'm being perfectly honest, it's not for me to say whether I'm attractive or not. It's for me to have self-confidence. Confidence is sexy…"
A confident AND sexy man. Got it.
On whether a rom-com is in his future:
"We need more romance...We have adventure. We have action. We've got a lot of stories about trauma, because trauma is very present in our world right now. But we also need love. We need more straight-up, old-school romance. I don't mind putting my hand up and stepping into that place to say, 'I'll be your man, girl.' I don't mind that at all..."
Regina King on Yahya's dedication to the women in his life:
"That man talks about his sisters and his mother with so much love and so much appreciation...I think that was one of the reasons why we connected so well. It doesn't always work that way with actors, that you feel safe enough to be so forthcoming with your personal life, but we did that literally day one. His love for the women in his life, he leads with that…"
A cosign from Regina King, it gets no better than that.
ESSENCE's 'Summer Screen Kings' also features actors Don Cheadle (Space Jam: A New Legacy), Omar Sy (Lupin), Aaron Pierre (OLD) and Mekai Curtis (Raising Kanan). The issue hits newsstands on June 29th.
Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!
Featured image via Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI