Yaya DaCosta Johnson Interview with Zap2it.com (Apr 06)

April 14, 2010

In April of 2006, Zap2it.com posted an interview with Cycle 3’s Yaya DaCosta Johnson with regards to her movie role alongside Antonio Banderas in dance flick Take the Lead. Here’s the text from the article (written by Hanh Nguyen):

On “America’s Next Top Model,” Yaya DaCosta was the brainy, Afro-centric runner-up on the show’s third season. Now she’s starring opposite Antonio Banderas in her feature debut “Take the Lead,” and reveals that acting was in the plans all along; modeling was a detour.

“When I was 11, I had taken classes and did some educational films. As far as my family was concerned, I’ve always been acting,” says the Brown University grad. “So I did that show kind of like taking a break from 30-page papers in school on midterm week. I was like, ‘Oh, that would be cute,’ but I didn’t really know what I was getting into. After that was over, it was over.”

She’s grateful for her experience, but was glad to learn from the “Take the Lead” filmmakers that she landed her role solely on her own merit, not the show. In the movie, she plays troubled high school student LaRhette, who raises her siblings while her mom works late and whose brother was killed by a fellow student. The bright spot in her life is afterschool detention, where ballroom dance instructor Pierre Dulaine introduces the students to the finer points of teamwork and terpsichore.

Although DaCosta’s upbringing isn’t like her character’s, she had no problem identifying with LaRhette’s circumstances.

“My parents are educators, I had both parents at home … so it was more secondhand information,” she says. “I’m from New York City, from Harlem, and my ‘hood isn’t one of the nicest in the city. My friends when I was younger had more in common with LaRhette than I did on that level, but it was right there. All I had to do was go to my block.”

She had a bigger challenge with the ballroom dancing scenes, specifically following her partner’s lead.

“All the dance styles that I’d done before were very individualistic. I make all the decisions about what I’m going to do next with my body,” she explains. “This was completely different because it’s a conversation between you and your partner. You have to trust them and relinquish, as a woman, all of your decision making.”

DaCosta, who studied international relations in college, can speak four languages and is currently teaching herself Swahili. She’d like to model her career after “V for Vendetta” star Natalie Portman, another multilingual actress with political interests.

“I have a bunch of dream roles, but at some point I’d love to have an accent or speak another language in a film,” she says. “Or maybe action movies. Aside from dance, I play capoiera, which is a Brazilian martial art … And then I’d love to write some scripts. Look out for some really political stuff from me.”

Right now, though, she’s just enjoying the personalized, ghetto-fabulous earrings LaRhette wore in the film.

“I got to keep the backup ones. So I have my souvenir,” she says. “They’re cute. I wore them once … out in New York and people were like, ‘That’s not your name.’ I was like, ‘Wait and see.'”

“Take the Lead” opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, April 7.

To learn more about Cycle 3 runner up, Yaya DaCosta, visit her bio page here.

(VIA Zap2it)

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