‘Chicago Med’: How Yaya DaCosta Got Her Big Break

by Jacklyn Krol
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Chicago Med alum Yaya DaCosta has had quite an acting career.

She was born in 1982 and later attended Brown University where she got a degree in Africana Studies. Over the years, she grew up in the Dominican Republic and Brazil. Surprisingly, her big break in entertainment wasn’t in acting. She appeared on America’s Top Model in 2004. Eva Pigford won the season, but DaCosta managed to make it all the way and was the runner-up of Cycle 3. Appearing on the series helped her break into acting.

Her first guest starring role was on Eve and would later appear in the “Gold Digger” music video for Kanye West and “Pullin’ Me Back” by Chingy. Numerous hip hop stars wanted her in their music videos in the 2000s.

In 2006, she had her breakout movie role in Take The Lead. The movie was based on the life of ballroom educator Pierre Dulaine, which was played by Antonio Banderas. Banderas’ character volunteers to teach dance classes at a public high school in New York to hopefully change these troubled kids’ lives. DaCosta played the role of student LaRhette Dudley. Dudley was struggling to care for her younger siblings while managing to handle school. LaRhette ended up having a romantic interest in Jason “Rock” Rockwell (Rob Brown).

It wasn’t until two years later that she joined the cast of All My Children for 44 episodes. She portrayed Angela Vaughn, and her aunt was Patricia Williams, played by Debbi Morgan, who would later star in Our Kind of People with her.

Beyond ‘Chicago Med’

The Chicago Med star then pursued a life in the theater in 2008 and 2009. She was part of the ensemble of a Signature Theater Company’s version of the “The First Breeze of Summer” by Leslie Lee. She portrayed the young version of the Uggams’ family matriarch, Gremmar Lucretia Edwards.

In 2015, her life was about to change when she got to truly shine and take the lead. Angela Bassett directed the television biopic based on Whitney Houston’s life. DaCosta played the iconic role of the musical legend. It did well on Lifetime and although she did not sing in it, her acting truly stole the show.

DaCosta joined Chicago Med at the show’s inception in 2015. She made her exit as nurse April Sexton in 2021. Her latest project is Our Kind of People.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Med showrunners Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider shared how they would intentionally keep the door open for her April Sexton character’s return.

“We didn’t really discuss [a goodbye] because we don’t see that April is gone in the same way, in the sense that we know April’s OK,” Frolov said. Schneider added that April is “off studying to be a nurse practitioner, and she could come back, too.”

“I’m really grateful for this experience, even when there are obstacles,” DaCosta told the Huffington Post. “Especially, actually, when there are obstacles. It’s showing me that I have new muscles. I’ve had them all along, but I haven’t exercised them, so it’s giving me an opportunity to know myself more, to know what I’m capable of, and to use my gifts on a bigger scale.”

Outsider.com