By Kim Singleton
“David Makes Man” is a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old boy growing up in a low- income, South Florida community called the “The Ville”. To those who only know Florida for the South Beach sunning and social scene, this is truly a tale of two cities.
In the series’ first season, we followed David (Akili McDowell) as he navigated his days between life at a magnet middle school and at home while trying to avoid the illegal trappings ensconced in a neighborhood with little resources. David, also, assumed the burden of protecting his younger brother JG (Cayden Williams) from the same neighborhood challenges which JG seemed more willing to embrace. Their mother, Gloria (Alana Arenas), was a recovering drug addict and worked nights to provide for her family.
Visions of Sky (Isaiah Johnson), a murdered drug-dealer, haunted David. When alive, he served as his father figure. Appearing in David’s mind only, Sky sparred verbally with him as he weighed pros and cons of his decisions and actions. He was David’s moral compass.
The story was told through David’s prospective. His inner thoughts were an artistic interplay of lights, colors and sounds projecting his emotions and drawing you into his world.
Season 2 jumps twenty years. David (Kwame Patterson) is in his 30s, has made it out of the Ville and is working as a marketing strategist. He navigates his days between white-collar office politics and home life where he deals with his family as if it were still twenty years ago. Everyone has evolved emotionally, except David. JG is now a police officer who matured from the protected to a protector. His mother has been drug free for fifteen years. Despite her struggles as a former addict, she found a way to raise two sons whose chosen career paths led them out of the Ville. Gloria now runs a foster house.
David struggles to find his place in the lives of those around him. He is still distant and finds expressing himself difficult. “David is trying to figure out how to express his emotions in the right way but doesn’t know how to, so in trying to do so, he is creating all of this chaos,” says Kwame Patterson, giving his perspective on the emotional stifling of his character.
We still get to see glimpses of the younger David in Season 2. The story line jumps between adult David and his years in high school, filling in the blanks of his major life events. The season explores how David deals with childhood trauma and his attempts to move forward as an adult.
“David Makes Man” was created by Tarell Alvin McCraney, known for the Oscar-winning screenplay “Moonlight”. Season 2 premiered on June 22nd and is currently running on the OWN Network.
Kwame Patterson discusses his character on "David Makes Man". Video courtesy of African American Film Critics Association.