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Yaya DaCosta is leading in a new show that showcases and celebrates Black hair.
DaCosta stars on Fox's "Our Kind of People" as a hair care entrepreneur named Angela Vaughn.
DaCosta insisted her longtime hair stylist Chioma Valcourt be part of the show's production.
Yaya DaCosta is a familiar face in the beauty world. The former "America's Next Top Model" contestant was runner-up on season three of the modeling show in 2004. Then DaCosta turned her focus to an acting career, with a run on NBC's "Chicago Med" for six seasons.
Now DaCosta is the lead in a new Fox drama series, "Our Kind of People," playing Angela Vaughn - a hair care entrepreneur who enters the world of the elites and tries to establish herself in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard.
In a recent interview with Insider, DaCosta said the only way she'd agree to this role was if her hair was prioritized.
"I literally was not going to do the job if I couldn't guarantee that I could honor this idea that hair is actually number one on the call sheet," DaCosta said. "I'm number one, hair is 1A+."
'Our Kind of People' celebrates Black women and hair in a way that hasn't been seen in primetime shows
For DaCosta, this role was perfect because of her relationship with hair, which she says she is obsessed with.
"It was very important to me to really treat the topic of hair in this role importantly, because of the times that we're living," DaCosta told Insider.
In January 2020, the CROWN Act (the acronym for which stands for: Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) was put into effect in California, prohibiting race-based hair discrimination. According to The National Law Review, California was the first state to ban discrimination against natural and protective Black hairstyles including cornrows, afros, braids, twists, and dreadlocks. The bill was spearheaded in California by Democratic State Senator Holly J. Mitchell.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, several Black actors, including Natasha Rothwell ("Insecure") and Taraji P. Henson ("Empire"), have been vocal about the difficulty in working with those who lack experience with natural hair. DaCosta mentioned this dilemma as well, explaining how often Black women would get their hair done by local stylists who were never credited in movies or shows.
"We go to our people at home, they do our hair and we show up on set ready," she said. "But the people in the hair trailers either wouldn't necessarily have the tools or the experience to know what to do."
She continued: "And it's a strange thing to have to be studying your lines in the morning and preparing, but also have to be having these conversations to say, 'Oh, well, is that water-based? Probably not a good idea to spray that right now.'"
Lee Daniels, the executive producer of "Our Kind of People," spoke about the changes in Hollywood he's witnessed during a Television Critics Association panel attended by Insider's Kim Renfro this summer.
"The progress that has been made in the industry from the time that I did 'Empire' to just now is vast," Daniels said during the panel. "There's been a wake up call in Hollywood that we have to tell our own stories and do you our own hair and embrace ourselves. It's been life changing for me."
DaCosta's involvement in the series meant she was able to include her stylist that she's worked with for years
In a role that focuses on hair so much, DaCosta only felt comfortable committing if it meant using her own natural hair care stylist: Chioma Valcourt. DaCosta has been working with Valcourt since about 2007.
DaCosta says Valcourt often didn't get the credit she deserved - until now.
"For the first time I was able to actually bring my 'secret weapon' out into the light and allow her to shine and express herself out loud because this kind of play is what we would do anyway, just for fun," DaCosta told Insider.
That secret weapon is Valcourt, who did DaCosta's weaves for the ABC series "Ugly Betty" as well as locs and braids for the majority of DaCosta's acting career. Now Valcourt has been collaborating with DaCosta on "Our Kind of People," helping bring her character's hair stylings to life.
"Now we get to do it on such a grand scale," DaCosta said. "She now has the opportunity to be seen and to receive her flowers. So often we don't have that privilege."
She continued: "So often the people on set who are getting the credits in the titles at the end of a show or a film are not the actual people doing the hair. So now to bring someone like Chioma into the light and to a character like Angela Vaughn, it just couldn't be more perfect."
Read the original article on Insider