YaYa Da Costa (1982- ) is an American actress. She came in second in 2004 on season three of Tyra Banks’s “America’s Next Top Model”. She beat Toccara Jones but lost to Eva Pigford. She was also the lead female character in the film “Take the Lead” (2006), a true story where Antonio Banderas changes lives by teaching ballroom dancing in a rough part of New York.
Her full name is Camara YaYa Da Costa Johnson:
- Camara is her given name. It is African.
- YaYa is what she started calling herself at four.
- Da Costa comes from her mother, whose father is from Brazil.
- Johnson is from her father
YaYa Da Costa is her stage name, sometimes written as Yaya Dacosta.
She grew up in Harlem in New York, the daughter of a university professor and a school teacher.
She has wanted to be an actress ever since she was four. She learned acting, dancing and music after school. But her parents wanted her to get a good education and not pin her hopes on acting. So they sent her to boarding school in New England. She worked hard – and acted in some plays along the way. She got into Brown, an Ivy League university, one of the best in the country. There she studied International Relations and African Studies.
She also studied in Brazil for a while. She even appeared in an ad there for Seda. She can speak Portuguese as well as Spanish and French.
While she was at Brown she wanted to take a break from writing a 30-page paper. So she filled out the form for “America’s Next Top Model” for some laughs. But then later she was chosen to be one of the 14 women of season three!
She was by far the best model of the 14. She has beautiful eyes and one of those thin bodies that look like a work of art that fashion designers love. But on the show she seemed like she was looking down on everyone. So the judges gave first prize to Eva Pigford instead.
Da Costa says she does not look down on people, but was made to seem that way on television. But she is proud all the same. For example, she did not straighten her hair like most black models. It was nice to see, but still it was a sign of her pride
Even though she came in second, Ford still signed her up as a model. She appeared in many different magazines and did television ads for RadioShack, Fructis, Oil of Olay and others. She also appears as a model in the music video “Pulling Me Back” (2006) by Chingy and Tyrese.
Today she no longer models but is working on becoming a great film actress. Not great in the sense of being a famous Hollywood star, but great in being able to touch lives for the better. Among the actresses she looks up to are Angela Bassett and Alfre Woodard.
She went back to Harlem to find her old high school acting teacher. She has helped her to get started on the road.