'David Makes Man': Oprah Winfrey Network announces cast members of upcoming lyrical drama

The show centers on 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.


                            'David Makes Man': Oprah Winfrey Network announces cast members of upcoming lyrical drama

Oprah Winfrey Network is gearing up for its upcoming lyrical drama, 'David Makes Man,' and today, they announced the addition of five new cast members to the ensemble. This show will be the television debut from Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney ('Moonlight'). Additionally, four directors have been tapped to helm episodes of the premiere season of the series which is produced by Warner Horizon Scripted Television.

Alana Arenas will be joining the cast in a series regular role as the lead, while Gillian Williams, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Elvis Nolasco and Randy Gonzalez will appear as recurring guest stars. The roster of talented directors joining the one-hour drama includes Michael Francis Williams, Kiel Adrian Scott, Daina Reid and Cheryl Dunye.

McCraney serves as executive producer of the series alongside Dee Harris-Lawrence ('Shots Fired,' 'Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious BIG,') who serves as showrunner. Mike Kelley and Melissa Loy ('Revenge,') under their Page Fright production banner, Michael B Jordan ('Creed') via his Outlier Society Productions and Oprah Winfrey are also executive producers.

Alana Arenas attends the press room for the 31st Annual Lucille Lortel Awards at NYU Skirball Center on May 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for The Lucille Lortel Awards)
Alana Arenas attends the press room for the 31st Annual Lucille Lortel Awards at NYU Skirball Center on May 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for The Lucille Lortel Awards)

'David Makes Man' centers on 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 series, inspired by events in McCraney’s own life, explores the inherent trauma sustained in the fight for survival.

The series is produced by Page Fright and Outlier Society Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. It is currently in production in Orlando, Florida and set for a 2019 premiere on OWN. 

The new cast members join the previously announced, Akili McDowell (David), Phylicia Rashad (Dr. Woods-Trap), Nathaniel Logan McIntyre (Seren), Isaiah Johnson (Sky), Ade Chike Torbert (Raynan), Jordan Bolger (Shinobi), Cayden K. Williams (Jonathan Greg) and Travis Coles (Ms. Elijah).

'David Makes Man' marks the television directing debut of British filmmaker Michael Francis Williams, who is known for his compelling short films. He recently wrote and directed 'Black Star: Mila' and 'Stay Woke,' and he previously helmed commercials for top brands including Nike, Adidas, McDonald’s and Sony.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson attends the 2017 Tony Awards Meet The Nominees Press Junket at the Sofitel New york on May 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Ruben Santiago-Hudson attends the 2017 Tony Awards Meet The Nominees Press Junket at the Sofitel New york on May 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Spike Lee protégé, Kiel Adrian 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. 

Daina 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.  

Cheryl 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.