Emmy-Award winner and 2020 The Root 100 honoree Yahya Abdul-Mateen II certainly steals my attention for superficial reasons, but his pure talent cannot be denied in his incredible portrayal of Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale in Netflix’s upcoming sociopolitical flick, The Trial of the Chicago 7.
The synopsis of Aaron Sorkin’s film from Netflix’s press release sent to The Root:
What was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. The organizers of the protest—including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and Bobby Seale—were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and the trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history.
Yahya has been using his own platform to speak out against the injustices in firm support of the Black Lives Matter movement and subsequent uprisings this year, so I had to ask the actor (who joined us from Germany, while filming Matrix 4), “What radicalized you?”
“As a Black man in America, from the south—parents from the south—I think I’ve always known I had a responsibility to protect my own interests, protect the interests of my people and the interests of my family,” Yahya told The Root. “The protection of your soul, dignity and your rights that are promised to you under the constitution of the country, you actually have to fight, uphold and call for others to upholds those rights and values along with you.”
Check out the video above as he also talks about what he learned from portraying Seale. The 34-year-old actor is quite the hot ticket in Hollywood, having recently scooped a co-starring role in the upcoming Mad Max spinoff, Furiosa.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 debuts Oct. 16 on Netflix.