New OWN show examines manhood through Black teen’s lens

Akili McDowell (Image courtesy of OWN & Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Photographer: Rod Millington)

OWN’s new coming-of-age drama television series from Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney, “David Makes Man,” tells the story of David becoming a man with all the hopes, dreams and disappointments that come along with that endeavor.

David is an exceptionally intelligent 14-year-old from the South Florida projects. His daily life consists of navigating his way through the maze of drug dealers in his building; helping his mother raise his younger brother; making good grades to get into a coveted magnet program, and doing all of this with the support of an unlikely cast of characters not often portrayed on television.

The one-hour show premiered on Aug. 14 and features an ensemble cast starring Phylicia Rashad, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Isaiah Johnson. Inspired by events in McCraney’s own life, the show explores childhood trauma and its effects. Rolling out spoke with the show’s star, Akili McDowell.

How did you approach the role?
I see myself as David. Growing up in a single-parent household with a hardworking mother, David is committed to himself and his family. He has a knack for survival [and] is motivated and committed to wanting more out of life.

The show also touches on some subjects not often talked about. What do you think it reveals about Black masculinity? 
The show is unapologetically Black and reveals important topics like childhood trauma, the power of imagination and family. As David goes through everyday life, we see him being socialized into what his version of masculinity should be, what it means to be a man and the issues he deals with being a dark-skinned young Black male growing up in South Florida. The show starts the conversation on the meaning of masculinity and what it is to be a man. Click here to be continue.

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