Screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney revealed his personal connection to his upcoming series David Makes Man. Set to premiere this summer on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), David Makes Man is a coming-of-age story about a 14-year old boy living in the projects of South Florida named David, who turns out to be a child prodigy. After facing the death of a close friend, David must choose between life on the streets or to rise above his current circumstances and pursue higher education.
McCraney admitted that much of the story’s foundation was built on his own past. “I think every piece that I’ve ever made is always somehow rooted in my own truth,” McCraney shared with reporters. “In examining a certain part of my life, when I lived in that place called Homestead—which is like 50 miles south of Miami—I wanted to talk about a moment when I had to make decisions of what my life would be. That’s weird, for a 12-year-old to be thinking that they had to make these life-altering decisions right then, and it just dawned on me that that wasn’t just happening to me; that it was happening to many people,” McCraney told Deadline. “I had friends and colleagues in life who would say, ‘Yeah, I had to decide what high school I wanted to go to, or what profession I wanted to be.’ And then I had other friends in other places who had more access who said, ‘Oh, nah. I didn’t really figure it out until I was 23.’ So, it was really important to me to look at how, in the black community—especially the black community in poverty—we had to really figure things out early, or not.”
In an almost surreal revelation, McCraney explained how he approached Oprah concerning his idea and found, to his surprise, that she had also toyed with a project based on similar themes. As McCraney deduced, the story was born from a “moment of synergy.” McCraney also described the magical moment when Akili McDowell was chosen to play David. “When Akili walked in the room, we sort of had no other questions about that. He came in and owned the space,” McCraney recalled. McDowell not only embodied his character physically, he also came with ideas of his own. “The kids who don’t get to speak out, who feel like they can’t tell nobody, because people don’t relate to them, that’s what really pushed me. Because we’re really making a difference,” McDowell reflected. “It’s more than just a TV show.”
Watch the first look video below.