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Camara DaCosta Johnson (born November 15, 1982), better known as Yaya DaCosta, is an American actress and model. She was the runner-up in Cycle 3 of America's Next Top Model. DaCosta eventually went to star in TV series including ABC's daytime drama All My Children (2008), Ugly Betty (2009), and since 2015 stars in the NBC medical drama Chicago Med. DaCosta starred in the Lifetime television film Whitney (2015) as singer Whitney Houston and received praise for her performance.[1]

Yaya DaCosta
DaCosta in September 2010
Camara DaCosta Johnson

(1982-11-15) November 15, 1982 (age 36)
Alma materBrown University
Joshua Bee Alafia
(m. 2012; sep. 2015)
Modeling information
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Hair colorDark Brown
Eye colorBrown
AgencyFord Models


Early lifeEdit

DaCosta was born on November 15, 1982, in Harlem, New York, and is of Brazilian and African-American descent.[2][3] In addition to English, she can speak Portuguese, French, Spanish, and conversational Japanese.[4][5] She attended the elite Northfield Mount Hermon School during her high school years before attending college where she majored in Africana Studies and International Relations at Brown University.[4]


After finishing second on Cycle 3 of America's Next Top Model, DaCosta went on to have a successful career.[6] DaCosta only appeared once in the bottom two during the competition. She has appeared in advertisements for Garnier Fructis, Lincoln Townhouse, Oil of Olay, Radioshack, Seda, Sephora and Dr. Scholl's. She has graced the covers of numerous magazines, including W,[7] Hype Hair,[8] Splash and Global Modeling. In 2014, she landed a spot in Tom Ford’s Fall/Winter advertising campaign.[9] DaCosta began acting in 2005 after guest-starring in an episode of the UPN sitcom Eve.[10] She then starred opposite Rob Brown, Antonio Banderas and Alfre Woodard in the 2006 dance film Take the Lead.[11] DaCosta had supporting roles in the independent films Honeydripper (2007) and The Messenger (2009).

She appeared in the ABC soap opera All My Children in 2008 as Cassandra Foster, the daughter of Angie Hubbard (Debbi Morgan).[12] According to an interview with All My Children's new head writer, Charles Pratt, Jr., DaCosta left the role some time in August 2008, less than four months after joining the show, to join the cast of The First Breeze of Summer on Broadway. The First Breeze of Summer was presented from 2008 to 2009 by the historic Negro Ensemble Company.[13] In 2009, she had a recurring role as Nico Slater, the daughter of Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams) in the fourth and final season of the ABC comedy-drama series Ugly Betty.[14]

In 2010, DaCosta had supporting roles in the comedy-drama film The Kids Are All Right and the science fiction action-adventure film Tron: Legacy. Later, she appeared in the magazines, including on the cover of W (September 2010),[15] in L'Officiel (in November 2010),[16] and in Vogue (in January 2011 by Patrick Demarchelier).[17] In 2013, she also appeared as Carol in the historical drama film The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.[18]

In 2015, it was announced in an interview with actress Angela Bassett on CNN that DaCosta would star as musical icon Whitney Houston in a Lifetime television film about her life, which was Bassett's directorial debut. DaCosta received high praise for her performance.[19] Also since 2015, DaCosta has starred in the NBC medical drama Chicago Med as April Sexton, an ED nurse.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

On June 26, 2012, DaCosta married independent film producer and director Joshua Bee Alafia. In September 2013, she gave birth to their son, Sankara. On November 12, 2015, it was reported that DaCosta had filed for divorce from Alafia.[21] On October 6, 2018, DaCosta revealed she is a survivor of sexual assault in an Instagram post. Alafia allegedly sexually assaulted her as she slept.[22]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Take the Lead LaRhette
2007 Honeydripper China Doll
2009 The Messenger Monica Washington
2010 The Kids Are All Right Tanya Premiered at 2010 Sundance Film Festival
2010 Tron: Legacy Siren
2011 In Time Greta
2011 The Shanghai Hotel Kendra
2011 Whole Lotta Sole Sophie Shown at Tribeca Film Festival 2012, Spotlight series (world premiere)[23]
2013 Mother of George Sade
2013 The Butler Carol Hammie
2013 Big Words Annie
2014 And So It Goes Kennedy
2015 Whitney Whitney Houston Lifetime biopic
2016 The Nice Guys Tally
2019 Bolden Nora Bolden
2019 Peel Sarah


Year Title Role Notes
2005 Eve Ms. Jenkins 1 episode
2008 All My Children Cassandra Foster Series regular; 44 episodes
2008 Racing for Time Vanessa Lifetime Television film
2009 Ugly Betty Nico Slater[24] Recurring role, Season 4; 7 episodes
2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Audrina Episode: "Anchor"
2010 Mercy Brooke Sullivan 1 episode
2010 Army Wives Amber 1 episode
2011 Body of Proof Holly Bennett Episode: "Helping Hand"
2011–12 House Anita Recurring role; 2 episodes
2012 Dark Horse Amy Television film
2015 The Simpsons Princess Kemi of Nigeria Episode: "The Princess Guide"
2015 Chicago Fire April Sexton Recurring role; 4 episodes
2015–present Chicago Med April Sexton Main role; 80 episodes

Music videosEdit

Year Title Artist
2005 "Gold Digger" Kanye West
2006 "Pullin' Me Back" Chingy
2007 "Beautiful Girls" Sean Kington
2007 "Roc Boys" Jay-Z
2011 "Good Man" Raphael Saadiq

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Film Result
2006 Teen Choice Award Movies – Choice Breakout (Female) Take the Lead Nominated
2008 Black Reel Awards Best Ensemble Honeydripper Nominated
2010 Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Cast The Kids are All Right Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Ensemble Acting Nominated
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
2011 Black Reel Award Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated


  1. ^ "Critics express faith in lifetimes upcoming Whitney Houston biopic". Clutch magazine. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  2. ^ Yaya Dacosta at Fashion Model Directory
  3. ^ News, ABC. "5 Things About Yaya DaCosta, Star of Whitney Houston Biopic".
  4. ^ a b "Yaya DaCosta Q&A".
  5. ^ "yata slams nigerian roots".
  6. ^ "Top Model Contestants We Can't Forget". AOL Entertainment Canada. Archived from the original on 2008-12-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ "Yaya DaCosta and Zoe Kravitz Cover W Magazine's September "New It Girls" Issue – Fashion Bomb Daily Style Magazine: Celebrity Fashion, Fashion News, What To Wear, Runway Show Reviews". Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  8. ^ "Digital Cover: Yaya DaCosta On Celebrating Her Natural Tresses On & Off The Big Screen". Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  9. ^ "Yaya DaCosta Stars in new Tom Ford Ad". Essence. Retrieved 2019-09-05.
  10. ^ "Where are the models of ANTM now?". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Antonio Banderas and Katya Virshilas in 'Take the Lead'". LA Times. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  12. ^ "All My Children's Next Top Model". Retrieved 2008-04-03.
  13. ^ "The First Breeze of Summer". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  14. ^ "'Ugly Betty' recast: 'Top Model' alum is Willie's daughter!". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  15. ^ Magazine, W (1 September 2010). "Film: Young Actresses".
  16. ^ Sulmers, Claire. "Snapshot: Yaya DaCosta for L'Officiel Paris November 2010". 30 November 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  17. ^ Sulmers, Claire. "Snapshot: Yaya DaCosta by Patrick DeMarchelier for Vogue US January 2011". Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  18. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Yaya DaCosta On 'The Butler' & Maintaining Those Gorgeous Locks". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Lifetime's 'Whitney': What the Critics Are Saying". hollywood reporter. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Yaya DaCosta Says 'Chicago Med' Opened Her Eyes on Beauty and Western Medicine". Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  21. ^ Julia, Marsh (November 12, 2015). "'ANTM' contestant Yaya DaCosta files for divorce".
  22. ^ "Yaya on Instagram".
  23. ^ "TFF 2012: Spotlight"., Inc. March 8, 2012. Archived from the original on April 10, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-28. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  24. ^ Ausiello, Michael (2009-08-11). "'Ugly Betty' recast: 'Top Model' alum is Willie's daughter! | Ausiello |". Retrieved 2010-08-12.

External linksEdit