the insider: yaya dacosta

this kid is all right, and so is her movie.

by ali hoffman

You may know Yaya DaCosta from America's Next Top Model. Or you might recognize her as LaRhette in Take the Lead, or from her recurring role on Ugly Betty. But whether you think of her as model, sitcom actress, or former reality TV girl, Yaya's got a concrete answer on who she is: Actress, first and foremost.

With a supporting role in The Kids Are All Right, an upcoming film that broaches the current issue of same-sex marriage, and stars Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mia Wasikowska, Yaya's on a pretty impressive track. We sat down with her to talk about identity, stigma, and pretending to date Mark Ruffalo.

Have you gotten a chance to see the final cut of The Kids Are All Right?  Yes! It's a great, great, great film. It's one of those films that you feel like it's not just a movie. It's probably going to have a following...Someone asked if it was a political film... And I was like, "No, I don't think that was their intention, but I think it's going to have an impact in a political way."

So, Mark Ruffalo is your boyfriend in the movie?  I don't want to call him my boyfriend... I feel like they're friends with benefits. It's not defined, they're very casual [laughs]. But it was so fun- he's so cute! And not just physically- his energy is so nice and he's such a gentleman.

I'm sure you still get a lot of America's Next Top Model questions. Less and less, it's fading out. For me, honestly, it faded as soon as the last episode aired. It's just one of those things on a long list that I did in my youth.  I'm like, "Oh yeah, that was fun." But because they rerun it constantly, and because no one knew me before, it carries a lot more weight for other people.

But you don't feel like it helped or hurt in any way?  I've had a couple directors and producers actually tell me, like, "Wow, if I had known [about the show], I might not have hired you." Because a lot of people don't know! I don't put it on my resume, you know, and I don't talk about it... I was actually really relieved not to win.

The movie stars a lot of heavy hitters - were you intimidated going into it?  Seriously! It's always great to work with serious actors because you know it's going to be a real communication. It's not like they're going on set with their lines prepared and they know exactly how they're going to play out the scene...I mean, I'm always nervous going into a new project, but I was more like, "Great! Challenge! Yay!"