Tarell Alvin McCraney on Making David a Man in Second Season of OWN Series

Kwame Patterson (L) and Akili McDowell in 'David Makes Man'
Kwame Patterson (L) and Akili McDowell in 'David Makes Man' (Image credit: OWN & Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./ Rod Millington)

OWN tonight (June 22) returns its drama series David Makes Man for a new season in which the series’ teenage prodigy returns as a 30-year old man, played by Kwame Patterson (Snowfall).

The series’ sophomore season -- executive produced by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Michael B. Jordan and showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence -- picks up with the now adult David as a rising businessman facing an opportunity that will change him and his community forever. The mounting pressure forces David to choose between the instincts that helped him survive or finding a new way to live, according to OWN. 

During its first season run, David Makes Man ranked second in its time period across all cable with African-American women and reached over 4.1 million unique viewers on OWN, according to Nielsen.  

Academy Award winner McCraney (Moonlight) spoke to me about David’s transition from teenager to adult in the series' sophomore season as well as the success of the show’s first season. An edited version of the interview appears below.

Picture This: Was it difficult for you to make the main character’s transition from a teen in season one to an adult in season two?

Tarell Alvin McCraney: When we first approached [Oprah] Winfrey about the show, we knew that we always wanted to talk about the ways in which acute childhood trauma shows up in our adult life. So the first season was laying the groundwork for showing how David, with all of his resiliency, survival skills, defense mechanisms, and his amazing imagination matures to a place where he can handle the adult situations that he's in, even though he's a 13-year-old kid. In season two, we'd always planned to show how those defense mechanisms and survival skills were hindering him from clearly living in the present. It shows an older David who has reached maturation and a place of respect from where he quote-unquote comes from, but is he actually living in his present? Is he having relationships that are bountiful and nourishing? It’s an exciting place to be because we knew where we were going -- whether or not we were going to get here was the question. You always have to wait and hope that the show will be picked up for another season, but we’re really excited to bring this to the home viewers and to the world.

Picture This: Following up on that, were you surprised by the success of season one, both from an audience perspective and from the critical acclaim that the show received? 

TAM: I'm always surprised … you never can count those things. As an artist, there's always a chance that someone is thinking about their taxes at the same time that they're looking at your show and they could absolutely miss all of the things that you're hoping to engage them in. I think for me, it has been exciting to see people engaged in a deep way. For example, there's a college course that's been created by multiple institutions -- one at Morehouse College, one at UConn Health Disparities Institute -- that look at the show on a scholastic level, and then there’s all of these groups on Facebook who have conversations about the work we’re doing. That's always really exciting and I certainly didn't expect it.

Picture This: We see David’s maturation in season two, but what else should viewers expect to see in the upcoming season? 

TAM: When we were in season one, we focused on the narrow path of a 15 year-old kid who was trying to get into a school. What came with that were certainly some side roads, but when we get into adulthood, there's a lot more chaos. It offers a 360 degree panorama of David’s life as an adult and how he's trying to handle that with the same amazing tools of a 15 year old in the 30 year old body. And I think that you can expect some of that to be really funny, sexy, and heartbreaking, but all of it with intention and love. 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.