Yaya DaCosta Bio | 10 facts about Chicago Med actress and ex-ANTM model

Yaya DaCosta is an American actress and model who became a runner-up in Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model (ANTM) and starred in the Chicago Med series.

DaCosta is a beautiful Black-American superstar with lots of internet clout because of her career, personal life, and appearance. Some popular queries about her include: What ethnicity is Yaya DaCosta? Who is Joshua Bee Alafia? Yaya DaCosta movies and TV shows.

In this article, we will attempt to provide clarity on many of these queries and answer as many questions as we can find answers to. However, before we continue, look at some of the most important facts you should know about her in the next section.

10 facts about Yaya DaCosta

  1. The actress turns 40 years old on her birthday in 2022.
  2. She is of Brazilian, Nigerian, and Black-American ethnicity.
  3. DaCosta grew up with three siblings: a sister named Djassi Dacosta Johnson and two brothers, Djani Johnson and Mamadou Johnson.
  4. The model and actress can speak five languages, English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Japanese.
  5. She finished second at Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model.
  6. Yaya DaCosta played April Sexton in six seasons of the medical drama series Chicago Me, and before that, she had been in tons of movies and TV shows.
  7. She played singer and actress Whitney Houston in the 2015 biographical film Whitney, directed by Angela Bassett.
  8. DaCosta welcomed a son named Sankara Alafia with her partner of three years, Joshua Bee Alafia.
  9. As a model, she appeared on the cover of WHype HairSplashGlobal ModelingL’Officiel, and Vogue magazines. She also headlined Tom Ford’s Fall/Winter advertising campaign in 2014.
  10. Yaya DaCosta Instagram account has 419 thousand followers, and she has an estimated net worth of $1 million in 2022.

ALSO READ: Addams Family, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel actress Mercedes McNab Bio.

Early life

DaCosta was born on November 15, 1982, in New York City, and she grew up in the Harlem neighborhood of Upper Manhattan. Yaya DaCosta is of Brazilian, Nigerian, and Black-American ethnicity. Her mother was Orundun Dacosta Johnson, while her father was Carl Awolowo Johnson.

DaCosta’s parents worked in the educational field (likely professors or high school teachers), and they wanted her and her siblings to get the best education there was, according to her own account published by Distractify. We found a source that claims that the actress grew up with a sister and two brothers. Her sister, Djassi Dacosta Johnson, is also an actress, likewise her brother, Djani Johnson, who appeared in Premium Rush (2012) and Kingsford Invitational (2015). Meanwhile, we found no additional detail on her other brother Mamadou Johnson. However, it appears that they all earned a college degree, at least.

As for Yaya DaCosta, she went to Northfield Mount Hermon School, an elite high school, and is a member of the Eight Schools Association. For her college education, she private ivy league school, Brown University, where she majored in Africana Studies and International Relations.

DaCosta is fluent in four foreign languages, namely, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Japanese. Already, from her high school days, she had picked interest in acting but had to stick through school before she could pursue her passion.


Yaya DaCosta ANTM and modeling career

She started her career in the entertainment industry as a model, and she likely tried her hands at various pageantries before landing on Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model at 22. Yaya DaCosta ANTM campaign saw her finish as the runner-up to Eva Pigford (now professionally known as Eva Marcille), who cooped A modeling contract with Ford Models, a fashion spread and cover in Elle Magazine, and a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl. Although, it appears that DaCosta also got a deal with Ford Models by coming second.

Yaya DaCosta antm model career
Yaya DaCosta antm

She appeared on the cover of WHype HairSplash, and Global Modeling magazines. In 2010, she was on the cover of L’Officiel magazine and graced the cover of Vogue in 2011. In 2014, DaCosta modeled for Tom Ford’s Fall/Winter advertising campaign.

Yaya DaCosta movies and TV shows

Immediately after America’s Next Top Model Cycle 3 ended, DaCosta began acting. She was likely filming the same year as the ANTM season that she was on. Yaya DaCosta first featured in a guest role in one episode of the sitcom Eve, which aired on United Paramount Network (UPN).

In 2006, she starred as a student named LaRhette Dudley in the 2006 dance film Take the Lead, which featured Rob Brown, Antonio Banderas, Alfre Woodard, John Ortiz, Jasika Nicole, and others. Following that, she had supporting roles in the independent music drama film Honeydripper (2007) alongside Danny Glover, Keb’ Mo’, and Mable John.

All My Children (2008), The First Breeze of Summer (2009), and The Messenger (2009)

Yaya DaCosta joined the cast of All My Children in 2008, which aired on ABC, as Cassandra Foster, but left the show months later to join the Broadway show The First Breeze of Summer, presented by the Negro Ensemble Company between 2008 and 2009. The same year, she played Vanessa in the TV movie Racing for Time.

Then, in 2009, she starred as Monica Washington in the war drama film The Messenger, which featured Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Morton, and Jena Malone. The actress also had episode-long cameos on TV series like Ugly Betty as Nico Slater and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Audrina.

Tron: Legacy (2010), In Time (2011), and Whole Lotta Sole (2011)

In 2010, she played Tanya in the comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right and Siren in Tron: Legacy. In the latter, she starred alongside Garrett Hedlund, Jeff Bridges, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, and Michael Sheen. The same year, DaCosta was in the medical drama series Mercy as Brooker Sullivan and the drama series Army Wives as Specialist Amber Stiles. She was also in a short film titled Lost and Found.

She appeared in four movies in 2011, the Justin Timberlake-led In Time (as Greta), Brendan Fraser-led Whole Lotta Sole (as Sophie), Weekends at Bellevue (as Vanessa), and The Shanghai Hotel (as Kendra). Also, she played Holly Bennett in one episode of the medical/crime comedy-drama Body of Proof.

House (2011), The Butler (2013), and Mother of George (2013)

In 2011, she featured as a recurring cast member in the medical drama series House Season 8, playing Anita. The following year, she played Amy in the TV movie Dark Horse.

Yaya DaCosta featured as Sade in the 2013 Nigerian drama film Mother of George alongside Nollywood star Bukky Ajayi, Ivorian-French American actor Isaach de Bankolé, American Zimbabwean actress Danai Gurira, and English-American actor Tony Okungbowa. She also played Annie in Big Words and starred as Carol Hammie in the star-studded historical drama The Butler. The latter also starred Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Nelsan Ellis, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Minka Kelly, Elijah Kelley, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Robin Williams, and Clarence Williams III.

In 2014, the actress featured as Molly McGinty in an episode of the TV show Unforgettable. She also played Kennedy in the romantic comedy-drama film And So It Goes, which featured Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, and Sterling Jerins.

Yaya DaCosta as Whitney Houston in Whitney (2015)

Yaya DaCosta as Whitney Houston in Whitney (2015)
Yaya DaCosta as Whitney Houston in Whitney (2015). Image Source: Prime Video

DaCosta played singer and actress Whitney Houston in the 2015 biographical film Whitney, directed by Angela Bassett. The movie also starred Arlen Escarpeta, Yolonda Ross, and Suzzanne Douglas, with Deborah Cox performing all of Houston’s vocals in the film. That same year, she did the voice of Princess Kemi in an episode of The Simpsons.

April Sexton in Chicago Med (departure and return)

From 2015 to 2021, she played April Sexton in six seasons of the medical drama series Chicago Med. She also played the same character in Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. when there was a crossover cast, which happened in several of the shows’ episodes.

In 2016, she featured as Tally in the American neo-noir comedy film The Nice Guys, alongside Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. She was also in the 2018 TV movie Faith Under Fire as Kendra and in Peel as Sarah and Bolden as Nora Bolden, both of which came out in 2019. The movie Bolden starred Gary Carr, Erik LaRay Harvey, Ian McShane, and Michael Rooker.

Yaya DaCosta left Chicago Med in 2021 and joined the cast of Our Kind of People, a Fox drama series that was canceled after its first season. She returned to Chicago Med, picking up her April Sexton character, as Variety announced.

Personal life

Yaya DaCosta husband

Many sources name Joshua Bee Alafia as Yaya DaCosta husband. However, the truth is that they were never married. Joshua Bee Alafia is an independent film producer and director. They were in a relationship for three years and welcomed a son named Sankara Alafia in 2013.

Yaya DaCosta husband, Joshua Bee Alafia and son, Sankara Alafia
Yaya DaCosta husband, Joshua Bee Alafia and son, Sankara Alafia

DaCosta and Alafia broke up in November 2015, and according to a report, the actress said they did not ever officially tie the knot. Since splitting from her former partner, the actress is yet to reveal her new lover to the public, if she has one.

Yaya DaCosta body measurements

Yaya DaCosta height is recorded to be around 1.73m (or 5’7 feet). The model wears her natural black 4C in various styles and most recently (in 2022), she twisted it into locs. Her eyes are dark brown and her waist is 23 inches. She wears Shoe Size 9.5 (US) and Dress Size 2 (US). Her body measurements are 32-23-35 Inches.

Social media

Yaya DaCosta Instagram account has 419 thousand followers as of September 2022. She appears to not have any other social media presence except a Facebook page which has 438 thousand followers.

Yaya DaCosta net worth

There are claims that Yaya DaCosta net worth is about $1 million in 2022. We cannot confirm how much Yaya DaCosta makes, but we know that the actor has acquired some measure of wealth from her several acting and modeling gigs.


Yaya DaCosta is an example for many young creatives in this day and age to get as much education as they can before going fulltime into their passion. There is a higher chance that the opportunity to do what you love will be there after you finish your schooling.

Her career is equally impressive as she has stuck to her business and continuously get better. She is still very active in the industry and we would likely be seeing more from her in the future. We hope she keeps delivering has she has always done.

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About The Author


Obinna is a fiction writer from Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up loving comic book characters and superheroes. He watches lots of action films and writes entertainment and technology articles. He is also interested in science and how things work.

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