Listen: Tarell Alvin McCraney on the Importance of ‘David Makes Man’ Narrative

When Tarell Alvin McCraney first brought the idea of “David Makes Man” to the Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN wasn’t looking for stories with the narrative of a 14-year-old genius, shaken by the death of his friend, and must decide to either pursue higher education or the streets to bring his family out of poverty. Though, with the addition of other dramas like “Queen Sugar” and “GreenLeaf” to the network’s slate, “David Makes Man” fits in perfectly with its Wednesday night lineup while maintaining a story that sets it apart from the rest.

“With the opening up of narrative and fiction, and drama on the network, we get a chance to be apart of a deeper conversation about community, about healing, about issues that are very specific to community and it doesn’t stop anyone else from watching it but it does allow us to be next to. We want you to be able to see the life of that wonderful family and the life of this wonderful family and that they’re completely different. Yet, they share the same skin tone and color and those are different experiences and are under the umbrella of this network,” the Academy Award winner told Variety‘s “TV Take” podcast.

Based in part by McCraney’s personal “latch-key kid” upbringing, the show depicts some of the realities that young black children in David’s position would learn, not only as conversational skills, but sometimes as a means of survival in outside situations. Unlike “Moonlight,” code-switching is a major theme in the series as David navigates his way through his magnet school and his neighborhood.

“The border that David goes to school, he walks a borderline from Homestead village to the Redlands, which is a white southern farming neighborhood that has built this border so that they keep the project folks away from the white folks. That level of proximity is completely different.” McCraney said. “The lessons in that, the thinking in that, the code-switching, the double consciousness that one engages is important to me and happens to young folks in David’s situation.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Peppa Pig

    Hasbro Acquires Entertainment One in $4 Billion All-Cash Deal

    Toymaker Hasbro is acquiring studio Entertainment One in an all-cash transaction valued at $4 billion, bringing My Little Pony and Nerf under the same umbrella as “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” and furthering Hasbro’s growth goals in the infant and preschool categories. Sources say the news came as a surprise to most people at Entertainment [...]

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar

    'Other People's Houses' Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar in the Works at Fox

    Sarah Michelle Gellar is looking to reunite with “Ringer” creators Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder on a dramedy co-produced by Fox Entertainment and UTV. Fox is developing “Other People’s Houses,” Variety has learned, and has given the project a script commitment. Charmelo and Snyder will write and executive produce, while Neil Meron, Sarah Michelle Gellar [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Jamie-Lynn Sigler'Woke Up This Morning: The

    ‘Sopranos’ Cast Members to Present at VMAs in New Jersey

    The VMAs will reunite “Sopranos” castmates for the big awards show happening Monday night in Newark, New Jersey — right next door to America’s favorite crime family.  Drea De Matteo (who played the mobster girlfriend-turned F.B.I. informant Adriana La Cerva), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (who played Tony Soprano’s precocious daughter Meadow Soprano) and Vincent Pastore (who played [...]

  • The L Word

    'The L Word: Generation Q' Teaser Unites Original Cast, New Characters

    Showtime has released the first look at the next generation of “The L Word” and its new cast including Rosanny Zayas, Jacqueline Toboni, Sepideh Moafi, Arienne Mandi, and Micah Lee. Along with some of the original cast, including Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, and Katherine Moennig, the series sequel picks up where its creator Ilene Chaiken [...]

  • ACCESS HOLLYWOOD -- Season: 24 --

    'Access Hollywood' Franchise Adds New Half-Hour Show

    After a spate of recent layoffs and the departure of host Natalie Morales, “Access Hollywood” is extending its brand with a new half-hour series. “All Access,” premiering Sept. 9, will take an in-depth look into the national headlines and look to uncover the real-life drama occurring in everyday places, exploring a blend of true crime [...]

  • YouTube TV Adds Subscription Options for

    YouTube TV Adds Subscription Options for AMC Networks' Acorn TV, UMC

    Google’s YouTube TV now offers two more add-on channels to subscribers, under an expanded pact with AMC Networks: British TV service Acorn TV and UMC (Urban Movie Channel), which features a selection of black TV and film titles. Acorn TV’s add-on channel is now available via YouTube TV for $6 per month and UMC is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content