OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is rounding out the ensemble cast of its upcoming coming -of-age drama series David Makes Man, from Oscar-winning Moonlight co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, and has named the directors who will helm Season 1.
Joining the cast as a series regular is Alana Arenas, (L.A. Confidential, Chicago P.D.), while Gillian Williams (The Girlfriend Experience), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (The Quad, Billions), Elvis Nolasco (American Crime) and Randy Gonzalez (Bloodline) are set for recurring roles. They join previously announced cast Phylicia Rashad, Akili McDowell, Nathaniel Logan McIntyre, Isaiah Johnson, Ade Chike Torbert, Jordan Bolger, Cayden K. Williams and Travis Coles.
Directors joining the hour-long drama include Michael Francis Williams, Kiel Adrian Scott, Daina Reid and Cheryl Dunye.
The series, currently in production in Orlando, Florida, is set for a 2019 premiere on OWN.
David Makes Man centers on David (McDowell), a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects who is haunted by the death of his closest friend and relied on by his hardworking mother to find a way out of poverty. He must choose between the streets that raised him or the higher education that may offer him a way out. Set in South Florida, the lyrical drama, inspired by events in McCraney’s own life, explores the inherent trauma sustained in the fight for survival.
Arenas will play Gloria, David’s young, hardworking, single mother who wants better for her children. A now-sober, former drug user, she worries that social services might take her sons away.
Williams will recur as Jessica Kelly, David’s former music teacher who is the mother of his best friend, Seren. Santiago-Hudson is Dr. Bree, a clinical psychiatrist who challenges David to examine the trauma of his past and his hopes for the future. Nolasco will play Tio-Teo, the uncle to David’s strained acquaintance, Raynan. He aims to expand his illegal prescription med operation . . . no matter what the cost. Gonzalez is Mr. Lopez, a teacher of remedial math who believes in David more than David believes in himself.
Williams, known for his compelling short films, is making his TV directorial debut with David Makes Man. He recently wrote and directed Black Star: Mila and Stay Woke, and he previously helmed commercials for brands including Nike, Adidas, McDonald’s and Sony.
Spike Lee protégé, Scott’s films have screened internationally, winning several major film festivals, including the American Black Film Festival’s HBO Short Film Competition. His film Samaria was recognized for outstanding directorial achievement at the DGA Student Film Awards and was a finalist in the Student Academy Awards. He participated in Ryan Murphy’s HALF Foundation directing mentorship program, where he shadowed Angela Bassett. Most recently Kiel directed the two-part miniseries The Bobby Brown Story for BET.
Reid’s recent directing credits include The Handmaid’s Tale, Hunters, The Spanish Princess and Sunshine, which won the 2017 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award for best telefeature or miniseries, in addition to Reid receiving the Australian Directors’ Guild Award for best direction. In 2016, she directed and co-produced the miniseries adaptation of The Secret River, which premiered at the Sydney Film Festival and won The Silver Logie for most outstanding drama series.
Dunye is considered the most influential African American filmmaker to emerge from New Queer Cinema wave of the mid-1990s. Her groundbreaking first film, The Watermelon Woman, won the Teddy Award for Best Feature at Berlinale in 1996. Her 2002 follow-up, HBO’s Stranger Inside, was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards including Best Director. Since 2017, she has directed episodes of Queen Sugar and Love Is___ for OWN and Warner Horizon, Claws for TNT, and The Fosters for Freeform. She is now set to write & direct The Wonder Of All Things for Lionsgate.
David Makes Man is produced by Page Fright and Outlier Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television.
Nolasco is repped by Paradigm and Silver Lining Entertainment. Gonzalez is repped by Lisa Lax Agency, Smith & Hervey/Grimes Talent Agency, and Red Baron Management. Santiago-Hudson is repped by Gersh.