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Yaya DaCosta: 'Our Kind of People' makes a statement with hair

Yaya DaCosta: 'Our Kind of People' makes a statement with hair
Yaya DaCosta stars in the Fox drama "Our Kind of People." File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Our Kind of People star Yaya DaCosta said the show, premiering Tuesday, makes a social statement with her character's profession. DaCosta plays Angela Vaughn, an entrepreneur who moves to Martha's Vineyard to sell her hair products.

The 38-year-old DaCosta said she used to get mocked in public by Black women with straight hair when she wore hers in a curly Mohawk, or "fro-hawk." At a Television Critics Association Zoom panel, DaCosta said that on Our Kind of People, she and her costars "are relinquishing the pressure to be coiffed in a way to fit in."

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In the show, Angela makes her own shampoos and conditioners from her late mother's formula, hoping to sell her products to the wealthy Black community in Martha's Vineyard.

DaCosta said the show is significant in light of California's CROWN Act, signed into law in 2019 to prevent discrimination against hair style and texture, such as dreadlocks or "locs" for short. Angela encounters personal drama in Martha's Vineyard, but DaCosta said the backdrop of hair styling reflects social progress.

CROWN stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.

"The CROWN Act literally just gives us women with textured hair permission to be as we are, to not get kicked out of school, to not be forced to cut our locs off in a corporate environment," DaCosta said.

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Angela moves to Martha's Vineyard with her aunt, Patricia (Debbi Morgan), and daughter, Nikki (Alana Bright). As soon as they arrive, they ruffle the Franklin and Dupont families, whose company, Franklin Holdings, has made both families wealthy for generations.

Morgan, 65, and DaCosta, 38, previously co-starred on All My Children as mother and daughter. Morgan said she also felt pressure to wear wigs of straight hair in earlier roles.

"When I read this script and saw how important this part of our culture was going to be to this show, I was just ecstatic," Morgan said. "I feel this is so relevant today."

The show is adapted from Lawrence Otis Graham's 1999 nonfiction book about the Black elite of Martha's Vineyard. Karin Gist adapted the book, whose name is the same as the show, and created the fictional Franklin and Dupont families.

Empire creator Lee Daniels produced Our Kind of People. Daniels also directed DaCosta in the film, The Butler.

DaCosta, who left the medical drama Chicago Med after its sixth season, said she fell in love with Gist's script for the way it addressed relevant issues in the drama between the Vaughns, Franklins and Duponts.

"We are playing with these serious themes, but we are making them so fun and exciting and controversial," DaCosta said.

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DaCosta said the show's celebration of natural hair is bigger than the cast of Black actresses, noting that DaCosta said Our Kind of People hired hair stylists who specialize in Black hair.

"Here's an opportunity also for us to put our arms around these hair people, these people who have been taking care of our texture," DaCosta said. "And give them an opportunity to shine."

Our Kind of People airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EDT on Fox.

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