The brand-new series ‘David Makes Man’ makes its highly-anticipated debut Aug. 14 on OWN. HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with the cast about their characters, how the roles challenged them as actors, and more.
David Makes Man is a new show from Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney and executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Michael B. Jordan. The series, premiering Aug. 14 on OWN, follows a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects who is haunted by the death of his closest friend and relies 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 series is inspired by events in McCraney’s own life and explores childhood trauma and the power of imagination to survive. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with cast members Akili McDowell, Nathaniel Logan McIntyre, Alana Arenas, and Travis Coles about the drama series.
Akili plays David and he revealed what made him want to audition for the role. “It was really just the script in general,” Akili told HollywoodLife. “As soon as I read the script, I knew it was going to be something powerful and I knew it was going to be something good. I knew there was nothing quite like it on TV.” His co-star Nathaniel, who plays, Seren, agreed with him. “The script feels so natural and real,” Nathaniel says. “That’s one thing that really drew me to the whole project and knowing the names. It’s really amazing being a part of a project so big.”
Akili also opened up about the many interesting facets of David. “I like how David uses his imagination to survive,” Akili continued. “You will see David drawing on the ceiling just something to ease his pain. He even imagines people come to help him in hard times and he applies pressures to himself, pressures about himself to be great. I also love how David is like a chameleon. He colors to exist for every scenario, every situation just to adapt and be successful.”
The series deals with some tough subject matter and Nathaniel talked about how he would prep for these pivotal scenes. “There are moments where there’s heartbreak and there’s hardship and it’s really tough for an actor to get in that zone. So before we would film, I like to sit and think of everything, go over and just get in the zone of what the scene is going to be,” he said. For Akili, he would try to not break character, even during the toughest scenes. He said that “no matter what happens or if something breaks, just don’t break character and continue with the scene because something that could look like a mistake could come out to be beautiful.”
The young actors also teased their characters’ arcs in the first season. “It’s gonna be real for David,” Akilia said. “He’s gonna make some hard decisions and, whether you think it was the right choice or not, he makes them to survive. He does what he has to do to survive. Not only to be successful in school but to be there for his mom and his brother.” As for Seren, Nathaniel revealed that he slowly starts to get to his “breaking point in a way and he starts to think of himself more in later episodes.”
HollywoodLife also sat down with Alana and Travis, who play Gloria and Ms. Elijah. Gloria is David’s mom and Ms. Elijah, who is gender non-conforming, lives in the same building as David and his family. Alana opened up about the fascinating dynamic between Gloria and David. “When you meet her in this series she is desperately trying to keep things together for her family,” Alana said. “She and her son have made a pact. They’ve agreed to stay out of trouble. Our goal is to get up out of here and find a better place where we can thrive.”
Ms. Elijah will be a mentor for David in the first season. “I think you will see that survival and community and helping one another is actually part of the survival in the community. You’ll get to watch him be a pillar, and actually mentor David along the way. I think that Miss Elijah being a mentor, you get to actually see the struggles and the conflicts that come along with that. Because you do want to be able to make sure that everyone makes it, everyone gets out, and it’s not always that way. But without giving too much away, I think that you also get to see how infallible someone who is trying to be a good person in the community is, based off of what society is throwing at them.”