Yaya DaCosta stars as Angela Vaughn, a hair care entrepreneur in Fox’s new soapy drama “Our Kind of People,” and she drew inspiration from her longtime hair stylist, Chioma Valcourt.
“I say it jokingly but seriously as well — she’s a real-life Angela Vaughn. To be honest, when I first read the script, I immediately thought of her. And I’m grateful that she’s the one creating my styles on the show,” DaCosta, 38, told The Post on the phone from North Carolina, where she’s currently filming the show.
“We don’t get to see enough of realistic-looking closeness between mothers and daughters, especially with a teenage daughter,” she said. “For me, it was important to show Angela taking care of her daughter. And those are qualities I see in Chioma as well [in her life]. So, it was a lovely reminder every day to go to the trailer, have her do my hair and feel like we’re in a world that we understand.”
Exec produced by Lee Daniels and created by Karin Gist (“Grey’s Anatomy”), “Our Kind of People” (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) follows Angela Vaughn (DaCosta), a single mom and entrepreneur from Boston who’s moving to Oak Bluffs, Mass. — a town in Martha’s Vineyard brimming with elite and wealthy African American families where her late mom once worked as a maid — along with her teen daughter, Nikki (Alana Bright) and her aunt, Patricia (Debbi Morgan).
“A lot of the etiquette and a lot of the style at events [on the show] like the cotillion pulled so much from a culture that is not necessarily ours ancestrally,” said DaCosta, who grew up in Harlem. “I found that to be interesting, but also empowering — because this is the western world that we were thrust into centuries ago. So, these were the ways that people found to be able to navigate it, and feel empowered in doing so.”
As she acclimates to life in this glamorous upper crust world, Angela discovers secrets about her late mother’s past, encounters rivals such as Leah Franklin-Dupont (Nadine Ellis) and her husband Raymond (Morris Chestnut) and new flame, local businessman Tyrique (Lance Gross). It’s all inspired by a book, “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” by Lawrence Otis Graham.
“I bought the book immediately as soon as I got the job,” she said. “The thing about something being ‘inspired by’ is that it’s not a carbon copy. So, anyone who really loved the book will watch the show and see some similarities, but you’re not going to see the book. As long as people understand that and allow us the space to take them on our journey that’s set in this place, I think it will all come together beautifully.”
DaCosta, who has also played Whitney Houston (in Lifetime’s 2015 film “Whitney”) and starred on NBC’s “Chicago Med,” as experience in the world of beauty that Angela deals with on the show, since she was the runner up in Cycle 3 of “America’s Next Top Model.”
“I really believe that every experience I’ve had in my personal and professional life has prepared me in some way for this moment,” she said.
For instance, she cited a time in high school when she was given the yearbook superlative of “Most hairstyles ever in the school year,” not knowing that in the future, “My obsession with hair from youth would actually come in handy when I’m on set,” she said. “You don’t need to zoom in on a body double to have a hand in someone’s hair actually cornrowing — because I do that.”
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