‘David Makes Man’ Has A Powerful Impact At Sundance

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On Friday, January 25th, the Blackhouse Foundation and OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), teamed up together to present a special event for selected guests to view exclusive clips from the new coming-of-age series David Makes Man.

The series centers on 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 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 lyrical drama, inspired by events in writer Tarell Alvin McCraney’s (Moonlight) own life, explores the inherent trauma sustained in the fight for survival.

The clips and conversation were initially expected to be hosted by Oprah Winfrey herself, however, Blackhouse Foundation co-founder Brickson Diamond took over on her behalf and led the conversation.

In attendance were screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney, cast members Akili McDowell, Alana Arenas, Phylicia Rashad, executive producer Michael B. Jordan, and TV showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence.

A discussion among the cast and crew about the series revealed the process while filming and the how this story had an impact on everyone involved. The Academy Award-winning writer Tarell Alvin McCraney is best known for his film Moonlight.  When asked why this was an episodic series, McCraney replied, “with a series, we can bring up questions we can talk about weekly.

The illustrious Phylicia Rashad plays Dr. Woods-Trap a teacher at David’s school who appears to be a mentor to the young boy. She says, “she’s a portal, she’s an open door and she sees the brilliance, intellect, and capacity and wants to see him through.”

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Newcomer Akili McDowell plays the title character David, the young actor said how it was an honor to be surrounded by so much wisdom — when asked what it was like to work with the ensemble cast. He also adds, “David wants to be the backbone for his mother”.

Alana Arenas who plays Gloria, David’s hard-working mother says, “Gloria is struggling to see her children live a better life and to make sure the sins of the father doesn’t fall on the children”.

Actor Michael B. Jordan plays a pivotal role in this series as the executive producer. His company, Outlier Society Productions teamed up with OWN on this project. When asked how this came together he says, “we sat down and chopped it up and made it a story about upbringing and having strong women in our life”. For Jordan, he also added that his favorite part of the process of creating this was during the panel discussion where everyone had the opportunity to hear the stories of how this was crafted together.

For TV showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence, she was connected deeply with the character David. “As soon as I read the script I said ‘I am David’. I am the female version”.

Harris-Lawrence also summed it up simply and added, “y’all not ready for this show”.

David Makes Man is due to premiere in the summer of this year on OWN.