The second season of the OWN Network series “David Makes Man” continues to tell the deeply emotional story of how outside forces begin to shape a person from a young age. It is a tale being told by Oscar-winning writer Tarell McCraney.
Dominating the first season was the story of David (Akili McDowell) as a middle school student trying to survive the trials of youth. The second season shifts to David as an adult showing how his early years have influenced who he has become as a thirtysomething. David (Kwame Patterson) is a businessman with a bright future who is facing an opportunity that will change him and his community forever.
Season two continues to put David through a myriad of emotional situations. Playing the character – whether it be young or old – has been a challenge both McDowell and Patterson have gladly accepted despite the physical, emotional and psychological levels they have been pushed into facing.
The emotional moments are so high and so low, Patterson started doing meditation to help him deal with the role. He found that it made it easier to decompress when he would get home from a long day of work.
“You have to reset for the next day. If you try to carry that stuff over for the next day, you eventually are going to break. You have to separate the two.”
McDowell says, “It can be difficult at times but with the peers around us and the writers’ room around us, they make sure we leave the acting on the set.”
Taking on such a demanding role is a rather new test for the 18-year-old McDowell. The San Francisco native has been working since he was 9 but no role has tested him as much as “David Makes Man.”
Before starring in the series for the Oprah Winfrey Network, McDowell starred in both local and national commercials and on the ABC series “The Astronaut Wives Club.” He also has worked on the Showtime series, “Billions.”
Patterson brings more years of acting experience to the series. His film work has included “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” and “The Outpost.” His big break was working on “The Wire” with other TV credits including “Ray Donovan,” “American Crime Story.” “The Oath,” “Dark Blue,” “Castle,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Bosch” and “Snowfall.”
It’s not often that two actors will get to play the same character in a series. This one presented a unique task for Patterson as he was stepping into a role that was different but at the same time very familiar because of the work McDowell had done to establish the character of David in the first season.
Patterson prepared to take on the older version of David by closely examining the work McDowell had done.
He says, “We also talked and that helped make the transition easier for me. The good thing was that they did get a great job of casting.
“Me and Akili’s chemistry was so in sync from the first time we talked without even trying. So that was amazing because you don’t know how that is going to go.”
Collaboration was vital because David is so deeply haunted by both real ghosts from his past and an unbridled imagination. McDowell has found all of the specters David has had to face as a blessing because they end up helping him think of better options to deal with serious matters.
The two actors worked closely together to make sure Patterson had no questions in regards to how McDowell developed the character. It all came down for everyone – from the actors to the crew behind the camera – working as one unit to make the show the best quality possible.
A high bar had already been set as the first season of “David Makes Man” was presented a Peabody Award, earned a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Drama and was named to several critics’ 2019 year-end “best of television” lists. It reached more than 4.1 million unique viewers on OWN during its first season run.
Both agree the task was made easier because of McRaney’s writing.
McDowell says, “It does feel like it is bigger than just a TV show. There are so many valuable lessons and things you can draw from the show.
“Just look at David’s hard working mother and all of the trials and tribulations she goes through from sexual assault at work to sexism.”
Patterson points out that McRaney’s writing goes far beyond what he has written on the page.
“There’s always a deeper meaning to what he writes.”
The second season of “David Makes Man” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The first season is available on the streaming service of HBO Max.