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TONY AWARD WINNER/EMMY NOMINEE RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON, ALANA ARENAS, GILLIAN WILLIAMS, ELVIS NOLASCO AND RANDY GONZALEZ JOIN OWN’S NEW LYRICAL DRAMA ‘DAVID MAKES MAN’ FROM ACADEMY AWARD WINNER TARELL ALVIN McCRANEY (‘MOONLIGHT’)

Directors of the Series’ Premiere Season Include Michael Francis Williams, Kiel Adrian Scott, Daina Reid and Cheryl Dunye

August 27, 2018

Contact - James Ward III
Manager, Communications
323-602-1773
Contact - Brooke James
818-954-3861

LOS ANGELES – OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today the addition of five new cast members to the ensemble of its upcoming lyrical drama “David Makes Man,” 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 join the cast in a series regular role, 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 include 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 B.I.G.,”) 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.

“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.

Information about the cast:

  • Alana Arenas (“L.A. Confidential,” “Chicago P.D.”) will play the series regular role of 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. Arenas previously appeared in the Steppenwolf Theatre production of McCraney’s “Head of Passes.”
  • Gillian Williams (“The Girlfriend Experience”) will recur as Jessica Kelly, David’s former music teacher who is the mother of his best friend, Seren.
  • Tony Award winner and Emmy/Golden Globe Awards nominee Ruben Santiago-Hudson (“The Quad,” “Billions”) will play the recurring role of Dr. Bree, a clinical psychiatrist who challenges David to examine the trauma of his past and his hopes for the future.
  • Elvis Nolasco (“American Crime”) is set to recur as Tio-Teo, the uncle to David’s strained acquaintance, Raynan. He aims to expand his illegal prescription med operation . . .  no matter what the cost.
  • Randy Gonzalez (“Bloodline”) recurs as Mr. Lopez, a teacher of remedial math who believes in David more than David believes in himself.

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). 

Information about the directors:

  • “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.
  • Spike Lee protégéKiel 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.

About OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey's heart and creative instincts inform the brand and the magnetism of the channel.  OWN is a leading destination for premium scripted and unscripted programming from today's most innovative storytellers. OWN’s original scripted series include popular dramas “Queen Sugar,” “Greenleaf,” “Love Is___,” “The Have and Have Nots, “If Loving You is Wrong,” hit sitcom “The Paynes,” and upcoming drama series “David Makes Man” from Academy Award winner Tarell Alvin McCraney and “Ambitions” from box office hit-maker Will Packer. OWN’s Saturday night unscripted programming lineup includes “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” “Book of John Gray,” “Black Love,” “Mind Your Business with Mahisha” and the recently announced dating series “Ready to Love.” OWN connects with its audience wherever they are, inspiring conversation among a global community of like-minded viewers on social media and beyond.  Launched on January 1, 2011, OWN is a joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery, Inc.  The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com.  Access OWN anytime, anywhere on  WatchOWN.tv or across mobile devices and connected TVs.  For more information, please visit www.oprah.com/own and https://press.discovery.com/us/own/.

About Warner Horizon Scripted Television

A division of the Warner Bros. Television Group, Warner Horizon Scripted Television was founded in 2006 and is one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of dramatic and comedic programming for the cable and subscription/on-demand marketplace. Series produced by Warner Horizon Scripted Television include Animal Kingdom and Claws for TNT; American Woman for Paramount Network; David Makes Man, Love Is___ and Queen Sugar for OWN; Fuller House for Netflix; Krypton for SYFY; Pennyworth for EPIX; Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists for Freeform; and You for Lifetime.

 

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