Abel Tesfaye’s Transition: Embracing Authenticity and Retiring The Weeknd
After a remarkable 14-year run as ‘The Weeknd’, Abel Tesfaye has decided to bid farewell to this iconic persona. Throughout the years, we witnessed The Weeknd undergo various transformations, but his musical style remained a constant. With every track, The Weeknd’s unmistakable sound captivated listeners, from the early days of “House of Balloons” and “Trilogy” to his recent release, “Dawn FM”. His albums have delved into themes of nightlife, casual encounters, mental well-being, and addiction, offering a profound glimpse into his world. Now, Abel is officially retiring from The Weeknd, or rather, he will eventually. But what has triggered this profound realization?
While filming for the HBO show, The Idol, Abel encountered an identity crisis while portraying the character of Tedros, a supportive husband to the protagonist. In a candid interview with W Magazine, Abel shared his struggle with oscillating between Tedros and The Weeknd: “I had to shed The Weeknd’s persona, don Tedros’s wig, act alongside Jocelyn, and then switch back to being The Weeknd. It was a challenging mental shift. And after the concert, I completely lost my voice. I had never experienced anything like that before. My theory is that playing Tedros, a character who can’t sing, made me forget how to use my own voice. Perhaps I’m overanalyzing, but it was a terrifying moment. As The Weeknd, I have never missed a concert. I have performed even with the flu. I am willing to give my all on that stage. But at that moment, something complex was happening within me.”
Caught between two identities, Abel felt disconnected from his true self. The personas he had adopted as alter egos had distanced him from his authentic being, prompting him to reclaim his birth name, Abel Makkonen Tesfaye—the original Weeknd. “In the beginning, the lines were blurred. However, as my career progressed and I matured as an individual, it became evident that Abel is someone I go home to every night, while The Weeknd is the persona I embody for work,” he confided in Mark Green during an interview with GQ. As a child, Abel had always sung, knowing deep down that it was his calling in life, irrespective of his skill level. Although The Weeknd’s artistic expression leans toward the darker side, Abel himself is not defined by such somber hues. Initially, the Canadian R&B singer sought unbiased appreciation for his art. Moreover, he did not hold the same appreciation for his given name as he does now: “Having an alternative identity allowed me to escape the confines of being Abel, even if I cherished it more back then than I do now. I genuinely love my name now: Abel.”
Congratulations are in order for Abel’s brave transition. This recent trend of celebrities embracing their original names instead of stage names has sparked a wave of self-realization. The challenge of separating the private self from the public persona, particularly under the intense scrutiny of fame, has led many icons to grapple with an inevitable identity crisis. Just consider the experiences of Britney or Doja. While not claiming to definitively understand their situations, it is not far-fetched to suggest such struggles exist. Abel vows to continue making music as himself, occasionally still donning The Weeknd’s persona, despite his assertion that he is “killing” it. What lies on the horizon for Abel? We eagerly await what’s to come. Stay tuned.