Storytelling is more than just an art. It can be the turning point to healing for generations past, present and future.
Yaya DaCosta’s loving and fierce spirit has led her into roles that have touched the hearts of many. Whether you were first introduced to her in America’s Next Top Model or as April Sexton in Chicago Med for six seasons, it’s safe to say that she is one of a kind when it comes to breathing life into roles and she’s not done yet.
DaCosta now brings Angela Vaughn to life in Our Kind Of People and it’s a role that she almost didn’t take.
“When I first read [the script] I was like, ‘I don’t know,’” she recalled in a recent interview with Shadow and Act. “There are things that definitely resonated with me profoundly, but there are other things that I was just not sure about.”
It took the 38-year-old actress a series of phone calls with the writer, Karen Gist, to truly get into her mind as a writer to figure out the vision for the show. DaCosta says that Gist was generous with her answers to all of the questions that she had and ultimately after more conversations, texts, and reading a few more scripts, she decided to take the leap.
It may have taken a while to get DaCosta on board, but now there’s no turning back.
“There are so many different ways to be a Black woman,” said DaCosta as she reflected on ways that women who look like her can see themselves reflected through her character in the show.
“Of course, hair comes to mind because now there’s a wave of acceptance for something that’s very basic, to just be able to wear your hair how you want it or in its natural texture and it’s just the things that we have not been able to take for granted historically,” she continued.
Angela Vaughn is a hairstylist and hair care entrepreneur fighting to both fit in with the wealthy Black elite of Martha’s Vineyard and continuing her mother’s legacy while also building a legacy for her daughter, Nikki (Alana Kay Bright).
She notes that one of her favorite parts of the show is her character’s relationship with her natural tresses.
“I think seeing a representation of someone who’s not only unapologetically just wearing her hair, but also creative and constantly changing it is super refreshing,” said DaCosta. “I haven’t seen that and I know it’s something that can be bewildering to people because every week [her hair] is something else and that’s part of the culture. That’s something that everyone does and that’s one of my favorite parts. I’m so grateful to be working with my hairstylist, Chioma Valcourt because she is like the real-life Angela Vaughn.”
On generational healing:
From death to deception and lies, Our Kind Of People touches on a lot of the trauma that has been passed down for generations within the Black community. While a lot of the topics explored throughout the show are what initially caused DaCosta to be hesitant to accept the role, she now recognizes the work she has been called to do through Angela Vaughn.
“There are themes that are repeated and sometimes it can feel harmful,” she adds. “For example, at the end of the episode last week, you see me go and talk to Nate, who is Nikki’s father, and he’s in prison. When I read it I was like ‘Really? Do we need to tell that story? Again?’”
In hindsight, she understands why it’s a story that must be told as that sadly this is the reality for a lot of people.
“The healing is going to come through that storyline, it’s also going to come through the storyline between Angela and Leah (Nadine Ellis), with sister stuff and people having secret families,” said DaCosta. “Relationships between fathers and daughters, between mothers and daughters. There are so many themes that hopefully people will resonate with and possibly even find some healing from [them].”
On making time for herself:
DaCosta may be booked and busy these days, but she is still finding ways to pour into herself.
“I’m writing my passion project and it’s going to be really beautiful. It’s going to be something that has not been seen before,” she said, beaming.
Watch Yaya DaCosta in Our Kind Of People Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Check out the full interview below: