If you don’t know who Yaya DaCosta is yet, you soon will.
The model-turned-actress is blowing up the screen, big and small. Now, she’s set to play legendary singer Whitney Houston in a new Lifetime’s biopic focusing on the singer’s early relationship with Bobby Brown.
TVLine first reported the news that 31-year-old DaCosta had been cast in the lead role for the film, due out in 2015. Angela Bassett, who starred alongside Houston in 1995′s “Waiting to Exhale,” will make her directorial debut with the Lifetime movie.
“I have such regard for both Whitney’s and Bobby’s amazing talents and accomplishments; and I feel a responsibility in the telling of their story,” Bassett said in a statement released earlier by Lifetime.
Not everyone is thrilled by news of the Lifetime movie. Pat Houston, the singer’s sister-in-law, told the gossip site TMZ recently, “Whitney is certainly worthy of more than a television movie. If Whitney were here today, this would not be happening.”
Perhaps DaCosta can change her mind. Here are five things to know about the up-and-comer:
1. Her Small-Screen Debut
DaCosta actually made her small-screen debut in 2004 on the reality show, ”America’s Next Top Model.” She finished second in the show’s third cycle but went on to a fairly successful career as a model. She has appeared in advertisements for Garnier Fructis, Oil of Olay, Sephora and Dr. Scholl’s.
2. Her Move to Acting
DaCosta began acting in 2005 after landing a guest role on an episode of the television show “Eve.” The following year, she starred opposite Antonio Banderas and Alfre Woodard in the dance film “Take the Lead,” and chalked up some supporting credits in the indie films, “Honeydripper” and “The Messenger.” Soap fans will no doubt recognize her as Angie Hubbard’s daughter in “All My Children.” She also played Vanessa Williams’ daughter in “Ugly Betty.” Last year’s bounty of black films was great for DaCosta, who starred in three films, “Mother of George,” “Big Words” and and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”
3. She Speaks Multiple Languages
Of African American, Brazilian and Nigerian descent, DaCosta, who was born in Harlem, N.Y., converses in multiple languages, including in English, Portuguese, French and Spanish. She also dabbles in Japanese and Kiswahili. Clearly no slouch academically, DaCosta studied in Brazil and the Dominican Republic and graduated from Brown University, where she majored in Africana Studies. “I feel at home in a lot of places, but I am truly an African-American,” the beauty told NPR’s “Tell Me More.”
4. She’s Married and a Mom
In June 2012, DaCosta married independent filmmaker Joshua Bee Alafia and gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son, Sankara, in September 2013. DaCosta, who wears her long hair natural or chemically unprocessed, also keeps things natural at home. Like Jennifer Connelly, Gisele Bundchen, Alanis Morissette and Alyson Hannigan, DaCosta gave birth to her son at home. She’s also posted a couple Instagram photos of her breastfeeding Sankara.
5. She Practices Gratitude
“Happiness is the bomb cosmetic! When I’m smiling, sometimes I’m giving thanks for all the things I have, rather than worrying about the things I don’t,” DaCosta told the blog Doo Bop. ”I try to make my mood uplifting and peaceful then watch the world around me reflect that mood.”