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Yaya DaCosta

Actress, Model & Activist
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Biography

An actress and model, Yaya DaCosta began her acting career at age 11 when her mentor, acting coach Ann Ratray, sent her to her first audition. Theater remained a hobby during school and after graduating from Brown University with a BA in Africana Studies and International Relations, she stumbled upon a second place spot in the hit reality television show America's Next Top Model. During the show’s trip to Japan, DaCosta’s fluency in Portuguese won her a friend in a half-Japanese, half-Brazilian police officer who got her and the other contestants out of a sticky legal situation and ultimately saved that season of the show.

Following America's Next Top Model, DaCosta was picked up by Ford Modeling Agency. Soon after, she made the transition from model to actress starring opposite Antonio Banderas in Take the Lead, Danny Glover in Honeydripper, Woody Harrelson in The Messanger, and Charles Dutton in Racing for Time which earned her an NAACP Image Award Nomination.

DaCosta has also had a recurring role on the soap opera All My Children. In addition, DaCosta joined The Signature Theater Company. Their production of The First Breeze of Summer gained DaCosta praise from The New York Times, calling her “sharp and admirably credible …in a lovely New York debut."

Off screen, DaCosta is passionate about human rights and has a love for the African Diaspora. Through her work with international organizations like “charity: water” and Women for Women International, or at home in Harlem, where she volunteers teaching Spanish and French to Montessori school students, DaCosta encourages children to become citizens of the world. DaCosta's broad base of experience makes her an excellent and engaging keynote speaker on diversity, women's issues, and many other topics.

Topics

Becoming a Citizen of the World

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