Yaya DaCosta Alafia has a lot to be thankful for this year.
The 30-year-old model and actress is pregnant with her first child with husband Joshua Bee Alafia, and her recent movie, The Butler, is taking the box office by storm – raking in $25 million in its opening weekend.
“I think it’s great… I think it’s inspiring to see the reaction,” she told Fox News Latino. “I was really excited to audition … I knew it was going to be big, just not this big.”
The Butler tells the fictional tale of White House butler Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, and his family during his 34-year tenure in the White House in the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. The film is inspired by Wil Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post article “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” which chronicled the life of former White House butler Eugene Allen.
In the film, DaCosta Alafia plays Carole Hammie, the girlfriend of Gaines’ son, Louis.
Oprah Winfrey plays Gaines’ wife, Gloria. Other ensemble cast members include Mariah Carey, Terrance Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, Lenny Kravitz and Jane Fonda.
“Everyone was great,” DaCosta Alafia said. “Even when I was not working, I would interact with the other butlers like (Kravitz). … Everyone was really down-to-earth.”
She said the movie is so successful, in part, because it reflects real life.
“Yes, the main characters are African-American, but … anyone can connect to it,” DaCosta Alafia continued. “It’s just about family and the struggle between a father and his sons. It’s tracing a part of history.”
She said for many years, butlers and servants were predominantly African-Americans, but there has been a shift to Latinos holding those positions.
She said the film will not only serve to entertain, but also to teach and inspire people to have conversations about social issues.
DaCosta Alafia was born in Harlem and is of African-American, Brazilian and Nigerian descent. She was runner-up in the third season of America’s Next Top Model and began acting in 2005, with roles in Take the Lead opposite Antonio Banderas and Alfie Woodard and in the Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are All Right, with Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.
She speaks several languages, including Spanish, Portuguese and French.
“I love languages. I love to travel. I love to see that spark you see in people’s eyes when you tell them something in their language,” DaCosta Alafia said. “Growing up in New York it was easy – people are from everywhere!”
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Lucia I. Suarez Sang is the Entertainment Editor for Fox News Latino. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang