‘Our Kind of People’ Star Yaya DaCosta on Premiere’s Shocking Paternity Twist, Angela-Leah Standoff

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(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Tuesday’s series premiere of Fox’s “Our Kind of People.”)

Lee Daniels and Karin Gist’s new Fox drama “Our Kind of People” dropped a mother of a bombshell on its protagonist in the series premiere Tuesday. In the episode, single mother and Black haircare entrepreneur Angela Vaughn (played by star Yaya DaCosta) found out the long-hidden identity of her father: business mogul Teddy Franklin (Joe Morton).

Adding a twist of the knife to that revelation — a secret which Angela’s deceased mother took to her grave — is the fact that Teddy’s daughter, Leah Franklin Dupont (Nadine Ellis), has had it out for Angela since the moment she and her daughter, Nikki (Alana Bright), moved to the Black elite community of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard to open a popup salon and pursue a grant for small business owners from the Franklin family’s Franklin Holdings.

“This news comes as a shock to Angela. This is not what she expected to find coming here,” DaCosta told TheWrap. “And having to navigate not just these goals and dreams and intentions as an entrepreneur in a new town for her popup salon, but also navigate new relationships. All of a sudden, this woman, Leah, who was unwelcoming, isn’t just someone who doesn’t like her now. Now they have a connection. I don’t really know what to say, I don’t want to give anything away! I think it’s going to be exciting to discover the stuff along with our characters, as you watch it live. But I will say that it is quite the emotional ride. I definitely had to do some emotional weightlifting in playing the scenes. I think it’ll definitely be worth the wait to watch the evolution of these relationships.”

DaCosta’s Angela finds out the shocking news from a videotape showing Teddy Franklin framing her mother, Evelyn, who was a maid in Oak Bluffs, for selling drugs out of her makeshift hair salon. In the video, he’s wearing a watch that she remembers being worn by the man who once came to her house to try to pay her mother off to keep Angela, his illegitimate child, a secret.

She then goes to retrieve the wig she had given Leah to wear during an event that saw Leah exposing Angela’s mother for her alleged drug business. The two have a quiet but tense battle of words in which neither admits to as much as they seem to know about the other.

“That’s actually one of my favorite scenes that we’ve shot so far, because it allowed us to really get grounded in the friction,” DaCosta said. “We know there has to be tension and we’re at odds, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of being loud and really attitudinal and they were able to have this standoff in a really grounded way. And I just love working with Nadine. Tasha Smith directed that scene and she gave us a few magic words and we just went in. From the beginning, it just felt really, really right and actually set the tone because in the beginning of the show, we’re still finding our voices, finding our characters’ tendencies and temperaments.”

She continued: “That scene gave me license to kind of carry a more grounded performance than other similar moments, because Angela can be volatile — she’s emotional because she’s dealing with so much, there can be the temptation. I love that scene. I love the nuances of playing with words and having mutual understandings and choosing not to say anything, choosing not to admit things, even though you know that I know that you know that I know.”

The end of the episode sees Angela pull a strand of Leah’s hair from the wig and seal it in a bag, seemingly to test her DNA to confirm what Angela already knows about her paternity, in order to “secure the crown” in honor of her late mother.

“Our Kind of People” airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox.

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