For his Broadway debut performance in the revival of Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has earned a 2023 Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role—and it's all because of a dare. While studying architecture at University of California, Berkeley, "someone dared me to take an acting class." But Abdul-Mateen always suspected he was "going to be in front of the cameras."
It was in a director showcase at Berkeley that Abdul-Mateen first discovered the role of Booth over 15 years ago, and he's dreamed of playing it ever since. "This was the first piece of contemporary work that I ever did that felt like me, that felt like myself," he says, "that spoke like I spoke, that used the language that I use at home or that my cousins and my family use." Hear Abdul-Mateen speak about how he found the spontaneity of Topdog/Underdog every night he stepped onto the stage and what's next for him in the video above.
The 20th anniversary revival production of Topdog/Underdog opened on Broadway October 20, 2022 after beginning previews September 27. The limited engagement ran through January 15 at the Golden Theatre.
Abdul-Mateen starred opposite his fellow 2023 Tony nominee Corey Hawkins in the story of sibling rivalry and brotherly love about two brothers. Helmed by Tony winner Kenny Leon, the production has also been nominated for Best Revival of a Play this season.
Revisit the production with the gallery below.