Yaya DaCosta Talks Hair and Heritage as Seen through 'Our Kind of People'

Yaya DaCosta is stepping into her own spotlight in her new Fox drama. 

Based on the nonfiction book by the same name, Fox’s Our Kind of People is a dramatic tale of family secrets, the past’s effect on the present, class and social divides, and Black elitism set against the backdrop of the historic Oak Bluffs neighborhood of Martha’s Vineyard, MA. 

DaCosta takes the lead as Angela Vaughn, a haircare entrepreneur with ties to Martha’s Vineyard’s Black elite that may run deeper than she realizes. After inheriting a home in the upscale enclave after her mother’s sudden passing, Angela decides to relocate to her childhood hometown with her daughter, seeking a fresh start and answers about her own past. 

For DaCosta, the role of Angela is a welcome challenge. After a successful six-season stint with an ensemble cast on NBC’s Chicago Med, she’s now carrying a show of her own in the lead starring role. Though she says her leading position on the show is a lot of work (we chat with her while she’s still on-set shooting more of Season 1), she loves taking on all of her character’s complexities. 

“I love her sense of self, her determination, her ambition, the fact that she’s flawed and has things to work out and discover about herself and heal from,” DaCosta said of Angela.

“I especially love her obsession with hair, because I have one and I always have,” she laughs.

True enough, ever since we were first introduced to DaCosta via America’s Next Top Model Cycle 3 in 2004, her large, healthy mane of 4C hair has been one of the features of her physical beauty that’s stood out most for fans. Her casting is spot on for a show with Black natural haircare as part of its lore. 

“To be on a show where I can actually express my creativity in collaboration with my hairstylist Chioma Valcourt, it’s just so much fun,” she says of the way hair is featured on the show. “I wear my hair on the show, but we also play with extensions and pieces. It’s really exciting to be able to show all of these different looks being done while still maintaining the health of my hair.” 

Viewers of last week’s premiere episode got a taste of the treachery the affluent Dupont and Franklin families can inflict when faced with the presence of societal and socioeconomic outsiders. As such, with the show being loosely based on the real Black one percent of the nation, it’s safe for fans to wonder if Our Kind of People is hoping to examine the issues of elitism and division in the Black community.

Robert Ascroft/FOX

While those points are touched on throughout the course of Season 1, DaCosta says she doesn’t feel there’s any agenda on the show to critique the Black and well-off. 

“I don’t think that there’s something that we’re trying to say about the Black elite,” DaCosta told us. “I think they’re saying something about the Franklins, they’re saying something about the Duponts specifically, and any other characters that you might meet.” 

“There are stories, of course, about the exclusivity of Jack & Jill, etc. Yeah, it’s an exclusive community at times. But it’s also changing and evolving with the world.” 

Episode 2 of Our Kind of People airs tonight on Fox at 9 pm. For more from our conversation with DaCosta, watch the video above.

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