After a screening of the first episode of OWN’s “David Makes Man,” Variety’s Angelique Jackson moderated a discussion in the Variety Streaming Room with series creator Tarell Alvin McCraney, showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence and cast member Phylicia Rashad to discuss how the drama expounds on the stories being told in the industry about the Black experience.
The series centers around David, a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects who is haunted by the death of his closest friend. While attending a magnet school miles away from home, David must also grapple with caring for his little brother and his mother who is recovering from drug addiction.
In centering around primarily Black characters, Rashad –– who plays David’s teacher Dr. Woods-Trap –– emphasizes how the show portrays each character’s experience with integrity and dignity.
“We’re not expanding what it means to be Black, we’re expanding the visibility of it,” she said. “I think what’s important is that characters be drawn with integrity. Each human being, right or wrong, has this measure of dignity that is honest. Everybody doesn’t have to be a physician or a lawyer, but what people do need to be and what we deserve to see is real human beings.”
McCraney, who also executive produced the show along with Lawrence, added that their intention of creating stories about the Black experience is to continue furthering those conversations in the industry. He went on to share that was one of the reasons why he wanted to take his series to Oprah Winfrey’s network, OWN, was because he felt “it was telling many stories about Black people.”
“To be able to add to a story of young people, young Black and Brown people like that we had on ‘Queen Sugar’ or that we had on ‘Greenleaf,’ and then to be able to expand on that with David, we thought we’re going to be in conversation with already great art. So no one will be able say, ‘Oh well, that’s how life is for Black people.’ No, that’s one version or even a portion of that life,” said McCraney. “There’s more to it.”
“David Makes Man” was renewed by OWN for a second season in December. HBO Max has required the streaming rights for the series which is set to debut on July 16.
Watch the full discussion above.