The ‘Aquaman’ star is named after his father, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, and has said he refused to even consider altering his stage name to Yahya Mateen when he started his acting career, because he felt he would be dishonouring his father’s name.
He said: “My father [Yahya Abdul-Mateen] prayed for his parents every day and took them along the journey with them. 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.”
And Yahya, 34, also says keeping his full name has helped inspire others who have considered changing their name to something “traditional” in Western society.
The ‘Candyman’ actor told GQ Middle East magazine: “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. 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.”