Yaya DaCosta: A Dynamic Career from Model to Screen Star

Yaya DaCosta has made significant strides in the entertainment industry, both as a model and an actress. Born on November 15, 1982, as Camara DaCosta Johnson, her rise to fame began with her participation in Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model, where she finished as a runner-up. Her unique look and fierce determination on the runway carved a path for her transition into acting, where she has taken on roles in several notable television series and films.

Her on-screen presence is marked by a range of performances, from her work on the daytime drama series “All My Children” to her role in the medical drama “Chicago Med”, where she portrayed nurse April Sexton from 2015 to 2022. DaCosta’s talent extends beyond her ability to bring characters to life; she is also known for her appearances in critically acclaimed projects such as “The Butler” and “The Kids Are All Right”, showcasing her versatility as an actress.

Aside from her professional accomplishments, DaCosta maintains a connection with her audience through social media, specifically on platforms like Instagram where she shares glimpses of her life behind the scenes. Her journey from a model to a respected actress demonstrates her adaptability and evolution within the arts.

Early Life and Education

Yaya DaCosta was born on November 15, 1982, in Harlem, New York City. Raised in this culturally rich neighborhood, she demonstrated a passion for arts and learning at a young age.

Brown University Studies

Yaya DaCosta pursued higher education at Brown University, where she graduated with a degree in Africana Studies. During her time at Brown, she also showed interest in International Relations, which complemented her primary field of study. This academic background gave DaCosta a well-rounded perspective on the African diaspora and its cultural and sociopolitical dynamics.

Modeling Career

Yaya DaCosta’s modeling career gained significant traction after she competed in “America’s Next Top Model” and used the exposure as a stepping stone into fashion and acting.

America’s Next Top Model

Yaya DaCosta emerged as a standout contestant on Cycle 3 of “America’s Next Top Model” (ANTM), finishing as the runner-up in 2004. Her performance on the show, which was created and hosted by Tyra Banks, received widespread attention and opened up various opportunities in the modeling world.

Fashion Ventures

Post-ANTM, Yaya DaCosta leveraged her prominence to model for several designers and participate in fashion-related events. Her modeling work, coupled with her television exposure, provided a platform from which she expanded into a successful acting career.

Acting Career

Yaya DaCosta has established herself as a versatile actress, known for her roles in both television and film, which showcase her range and depth in the acting field.

Television Roles

DaCosta’s television career features a notable performance as nurse April Sexton on the NBC medical drama Chicago Med. Her recurring role on this series spanned several seasons, earning her recognition as a prominent face on prime-time television. Before her role in Chicago Med, DaCosta had also appeared on Ugly Betty, an ABC comedy-drama series, demonstrating her adaptability across different genres.

Film Contributions

In cinema, Yaya DaCosta received critical acclaim for her portrayal of singer Whitney Houston in the Lifetime biopic Whitney, directed by Angela Bassett. This role demanded an emotional and musical depth, both of which DaCosta delivered with commitment. Additionally, she has worked with celebrated directors like Lee Daniels in The Butler and featured in well-received films like The Kids Are All Right alongside prominent actors like Antonio Banderas.

More recently, DaCosta transitioned to star in the Lee Daniels-produced Fox television series Our Kind of People, where she plays Angela Vaughn, a strong-willed single mother. This series further solidifies her place in the acting landscape as a leading actress capable of carrying a television narrative.

Through these roles and performances across different platforms and genres, Yaya DaCosta has solidified her career as a dynamic and compelling actress in the contemporary television and film industry.

Personal Life

The personal life of Yaya DaCosta reveals a tapestry of cultural heritage and intimate relationships that have shaped her journey both as an individual and a professional.


Yaya DaCosta, whose birth name is Camara DaCosta Johnson, is of a diverse ethnic background that combines African-American, Brazilian, and Nigerian heritages. Her multicultural lineage has played a significant role in her identity, contributing to her unique perspective and presence within the entertainment industry.


DaCosta’s relationships have been a subject of public interest, particularly her relationship with independent film producer and director Joshua Bee Alafia. The couple was together from 2012 to 2015 and welcomed a son, Sankara, in September 2013. Their separation occurred in November 2015, marking a new chapter in DaCosta’s personal life journey.

Entrepreneurial Endeavors

Yaya DaCosta, beyond her acting talents, has ventured into the entrepreneurial sphere, particularly within the hair care industry. She launched her hair care line tailored to the needs of Black hair, embracing the rich textures and versatility that it represents.

The product range includes nourishing oils, moisturizers, and styling creams. DaCosta’s line is designed with natural ingredients to promote hair health and reflect the uniqueness of Black hair traditions and experiences.

Distribution and Availability:

  • Online platforms
  • Selected Sephora stores
  • Specialized boutiques with focus on natural Black hair care

Key Products:

  • Hydration Elixir
  • Curl Defining Cream
  • Strengthening Serum

The launch into Sephora signals not only a significant step for her brand but also a greater inclusivity within the beauty industry for products catering specifically to Black hair care. DaCosta’s involvement in the development and promotion of her products demonstrates her commitment as an entrepreneur to quality and representation.

In interviews, she has discussed the importance of authenticity and addressing a gap in the market for products that truly understand the intricacies of Black hair. Her line offers solutions that are both effective and culturally resonant, aligning with her personal ethos and public identity.

Her entrepreneurial endeavors in the beauty industry reflect a thoughtful extension of her professional portfolio, leveraging her profile to uplift and cater to a community that has been historically underserved in this sector.

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.