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With a fresh new look and a refreshingly candid perspective, Chicago Med star Yaya DaCosta kicks off 2018 in style.
Dress, $450, by MSGM at Chalk, Evanston; earrings, $345, by Alexis Bittar at Neiman Marcus, Northbrook; head wrap, $300, by Gucci at gucci.com
It’s no surprise that Yaya DaCosta is the most beautiful person in the room. Curled up in a booth at River North hot spot Chicago Cut as a photographer takes aim, her signature curly locks freshly shorn, the stunning former America’s Next Top Model runner-up has all eyes in the place on her. But there’s way more to DaCosta than looks: Since the 2015 premiere of Chicago Med (the third of NBC megaproducer Dick Wolf’s One Chicago shows), the 35-year-old Brown University alum has developed into one of the ensemble’s standout players. She’s also an interviewer’s dream—thoughtful, candid and downright funny in dishing on her life in the public eye. As Chicago Med kicks off its third season, we sat down with DaCosta to talk dream roles, activism and why she’s in love with the Windy City.
So what's it like to be part of the One Chicago world?
Oftentimes when you work on a show, you have your castmates, and sometimes it extends to the crew, and you might call them your friends or your family for a short amount of time, and that’s it. Especially with Chicago Med being the third show [in the One Chicago world], we came into this preexisting family, and it was very, very strong. They were so tight on Fire and on P.D., it made it easy for us to meld into that community.
What does Chicago mean to you?
Freedom, cleanliness... [laughs] I’m from New York, so you tend to get immune to the most disgusting smells. We don’t have alleys, so the garbage is in the street. This system works better, I will say that. The pizza’s not better, but the sanitation system works better! I love the pace [too]. Because people in New York don’t stop. They don’t even pause. It’s exhausting. So it’s nice to be in a place where the norm is to actually have a life, and then you work, and then you socialize. I love New York, so no shade to New York—but a little bit of shade, because y’all need to calm down, you know? [laughs]
Dress, $3,150, and boots, $450, both by Alexander McQueen, alpaca jacket, $2,995, by Calvin Klein, necklace, $350, by Akola, all at Neiman Marcus, Northbrook; mink earrings, $150, by Tuleste at Chalk, Evanston; Sunglasses, $350, by AM Eyewear at Glasses Ltd., Oak St.
Any favorite places?
I really like Restoration Hardware in the Gold Coast—whoever came up with that idea was genius. I’ve walked in there completely dressed up looking like a celebrity and I’ve walked in there in sweatpants looking like I might not have a home, and I was treated pretty well both times. That’s a place I can go, feel fancy sitting under the big chandelier and the water fountain and have a nice salad and a nice sandwich. And when the weather’s nice, I love walking; I’m always seeing new things, and I love the lake, obviously—that’s my favorite thing.
What's your dream role?
I believe in the power of saying things out loud, and I tend to not do that until I know it’s time. But I’m excited about what the future holds. I’m pretty agile, and I like martial arts, so it’d be fun to do a Marvel or Kill Bill-type movie, and explore that physical aspect of acting. And I definitely want to do more comedy.
Yaya DaCosta has developed into one of NBC hit Chicago Med’s standout players.
You're known as someone who uses social media to speak out about certain issues. Why do you think that's important?
I was raised by two activists; I was raised to speak out. I was that kid on the street signing people up for Greenpeace during summers from high school, because I wanted to save the whales. And actually, to the contrary I feel like I’ve been silent a lot more than has felt comfortable, because of fear, maybe, and just not understanding yet how to excel and do the things that I want to do, while also allowing myself to have this quote unquote ‘voice.’ My activism is being reawakened, but I’m still figuring out what makes sense for me to be vocal about.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Creating more content and being more on the producing, decision-making side. I do love acting and I will still be in front of the camera, but I am a very creative mind and it comes out in a lot of little ways. So I’m excited about being ready to share that side of me, sharing my writing, and doing things that are my own brand of activism.
Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAM GRANT; WARDROBE & STYLING BY THERESA DEMARIA; HAIR AND MAKEUP: AMY GEISTER; PHOTO ASSISTANT: MICHAEL TUTINO; SHOT ON LOCATION AT CHICAGO CUT STEAKHOUSE