Who is Yaya DaCosta?

Fans of the late singer Whitney Houston were thrilled when in 2015 a movie was filmed about her life, her rise to fame, and the turbulent relationship with her husband; the actress who portrayed Whitney in the eponymous film is Camara DaCosta Johnson, probably better known by her stage name Yaya DaCosta. For her performance in this biographic drama, Yaya was nominated for the Black Reel Award for Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series.

Besides the mentioned role, Yaya has 35 acting credits to her name, and is perhaps known best for her role as Cassandra Foster in the series “All My Children”, while some of her notable movie roles have been in “The Kids Are All Right”, “Take the Lead” and “The Butler”, among others.

Early life and education

Yaya was born under the zodiac sign of Scorpio on 15 November 1982, in New York City, USA, and she comes from a family of very mixed African-American, West-African, Cherokee Native American, Irish and Brazilian descent. She was raised in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, by her parents Orundun DaCosta and Carl Awolowo Johnson, alongside her two brothers and sister, whose names she hasn’t revealed.

From an early age, Yaya had an interest in acting, and at the age of 11 she began auditioning, encouraged by her high school drama teacher, Ann Willis Ratray, who recognized her talent. She was performing in school plays, and continued acting during her college days.

Speaking of her educational background, she attended Northfield Mount Hermon School, and upon matriculating in 2000, she enrolled into Brown University in Rhode Island, from which she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies and International Relations in 2004.

While she was at college, besides acting, Yaya launched her modeling career, having been the runner-up in Cycle 3 of “America’s Next Top Model” in 2003.

Roles in series

Yaya made her acting debut portraying Ms. Jenkins in the series “Eve” in 2005, and then three years later, she was cast to play Cassandra Foster in “All My Children”, alongside David Canary, Susan Lucci and Michael E. Knight – this romantic mystery drama had 574 award nominations and won 191, including one Primetime Emmy.

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In the following year, Yaya portrayed Nico Slater in the comedy drama series “Ugly Betty”, followed by her guest roles in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Mercy”, and “Army Wives”, before her role as Holly Bennett in an episode of “Body of Proof” in 2011.

In the same year, she guest-starred in “House”, and then was seen as Molly McGinty in “Unforgettable” in 2014, before she was cast to play April Sexton in “Chicago Fire” in 2015, and had the same role in “Chicago Med”, both series broadcast from 2015 until 2021.

Ever in demand, later in 2021 Yaya was cast to play Angela Vaughn in the drama series “Our Kind of People”; season one finished in 2022, a second season is yet to be announced by FOX.

Roles in movies

Yaya made her first big-screen appearance in 2006, portraying LaRhette in “Take the Lead”, alongside Antonio Banderas and Rob Brown, and was nominated for the Teen Choice Award Movies-Choice Breakout (Female).

In the following year, Yaya was cast to play China Doll in “Honeydripper”, and then in 2008 made an appearance as Vanessa in “Racing for Time”,.

In the 2010 two-times Oscar-nominated movie “The Messenger”, Yaya portrayed Monica Washington, and this romantic war drama had 47 award nominations, including two Oscars for Best Writing, Original Screenplay, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Woody Harrelson), and won 17.

In the same year, Yaya was cast to play Tanya in “The Kids Are All Right”, also starring Mark Ruffalo, Anette Bening and Juliane Moore, and this romantic comedy drama had four nominations for the Oscar – Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Anette Bening), and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Ruffalo), while Yaya was nominated for Black Reel Award – Best Breakthrough Performance, and she and the rest of the crew were nominated for Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award, Phoenix Film Critics Society Award, and Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award – Best Ensemble.

In the late 2000s, Yaya was seen in “TRON: Legacy”, “In Time”, “Stand Off”, and “Shanghai Hotel”, before her role as Carol Hammie in “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” in 2013, also starring Forest Whitaker, John Cusack and Oprah Winfrey, which was nominated for two British Academy Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards, with Yaya sharing with the rest of the crew a nomination for Acapulco Black Film Festival Hollywood Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

After her role in “The Butler”, Yaya starred in “And So It Goes” in 2014, before she was cast to play Whitney Houston in “Whitney”, also starring Yolonda Ross and Arlen Escarpeta, followed by her role in “The Nice Guys”, in 2016, and “Faith Under Fire” in ’18., and Yaya’s most recent roles have been in “Peel” and “Bolden” in 2019.

Love life and relationships

There have been various rumors concerning Yaya’s love life, and many people assume that because of her beauty, she was romantically linked to numerous men both from the fashion and movie industries, however, she hasn’t spoken about these assumptions.

It is widely known that back in 2012 she married her long-term boyfriend Joshua Bee Alafia, an independent filmmaker, known for the movies such as “The Seed”, “Cubamor”, and “Se Safando”. The two have one son together named Sankara, born in 2013.

In December 2014, Yaya confirmed that she and Joshua had divorced, and according to the magazine Essence, Yaya was the one who filed for the divorce after a few months of separation, citing irreconcilable differences.

Although there were various rumors surrounding her decision, Yaya stated: ‘I’ve just made it my practice to kind of ignore it because if I worry too much about what other people say, then I wouldn’t be able to spend the energy necessary on what I’ve been doing.’

As of April 2022, Yaya seems to be single, is divorced, and has one child.

Age, height, and net worth

Yaya’s age is 39; she has long, curly black hair and brown eyes, weighs around 125lbs (56kgs) and is 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, with vital statistics of 32-23-35.

According to sources, as of early 2022, Yaya has a net worth estimated at over $1 million, and mostly earned from her acting and modeling gigs.

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