After months of anticipation, the intense, contemplative drama David Makes Man premiered last night on OWN.
— David Makes Man (@davidmakesman) August 15, 2019
A collaboration between OWN and Michael B. Jordan’s production company, Outlier Society Productions, which guarantees inclusion in all its casts and crews, David Makes Man is the first TV project by Academy Award-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney (“Moonlight”). The series, according to the network, centers on David, a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects who is haunted by the death of his closest friend, and relied on by his hardworking mother, Gloria (Alana Arenas) to find a way out of poverty. He must choose between the streets that raised him or the higher education that may offer him a way out. Set in South Florida, the series is inspired by events in McCraney’s own life and explores childhood trauma and the power of imagination to survive.
“When you dissect this kid’s life, it can look like it’s about these issues,” McCraney said. “When the truth is, it’s about a life at a turning point and we meet David at a place where we meet a lot of young folks who are engaged in facing many things in a lot of ways. I was learning in one place that where I came from was ‘less than’ and to leave behind the tools that I was being given there and in the other place I was learning to ‘stay ready rather than get ready.’ I really wanted to figure out what tools had I brought to adulthood, so I wanted to make a show that gets into the interiority of a black young life.”
Akili McDowell gives a superb, emotionally-charged portrayal of David, who genuinely cares about people, and is literally haunted by shocking things that have happened to him and around him.
“I just love [David Makes Man] so much—it makes me want to cry,” Winfrey said, “because I think about all the people who will see it and not just recognize themselves, but that thing that happens when art validates your life. You get validated by it. There are so many people who are going to be validated by the experience of watching it.”