Tuesday, April 20, 2021

David Makes Man’s Phylicia Rashad Talks Manhood, Mentors and More

*By now, dear reader, it has is aware that “David Makes Man” on OWN is a beautiful television offering from every aspect.  Written by Terrell Alvin McCraney, and starring young Akili McDowell, with direction from showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence, the visually stunning, emotionally-stirring coming of age story is both unique as it is captivating.

Through and through, the story looks at black boyhood, as well as black maleness, from perspectives heretofore unprecedented.

Young David, played by McDowell, is a brilliant boy from a Florida housing project who, due to attending an elite school in a different district, must navigate two worlds that appear diametrically opposed to one another.  Yet consequences will take their grisly penance in every arena.

Several weeks ago, EURweb had the opportunity to bask in the glow of actress Phylicia Rashad, who plays Dr. Woods-Trap in the series.  She is something of an advocate for young David in the academic space, a world in which his intelligence is more than enough, but he’s still only a 14-year-old boy.

Ms. Rashad captivated the gathering in channeling the mothering energy she is most famous for in breaking down teachers, the makings of a man, and the wonderful performances turned in by the young actors involved in “David Makes Man.”

“When I think of a man, I think of my father,” said Rashad when asked her definition of manhood. “My father is what they would call a man’s man.  Men loved him, women adored him. He was just beautiful. He was a man of faith who loved his work. He took pride and joy in it. He loved simple things. But, most of all, he loved his children. My parents divorced when I was six and my parents remarried when I was ten.”


Phylicia Rashad Discusses Her Father As A Template For An Ideal Man

“We moved from Houston to Atlanta. And Atlanta was a different scene from Houston. It was more fun. She kept trying to get him to move from Houston to Atlanta and he said ‘I’ll never leave my children.’ I never wondered where my father was. He was always there for us, even as adults.  He was strong, he was kind, he was generous, he was honest. He was comfortable in his own skin and didn’t see the need to put weight on anyone else.”

EURweb: What were some of the challenges you faced in preparing for executing this role?

I felt the pressure working with these two, though. Because they’re so swift, so bright, so unmanipulated. If you go back and look at old productions, old television and old film, You watch these things through time, and through decades, and you notice acting styles change, writing styles changes because acting changes, but they’re just brutally honest. Which is good for someone like me! It affords me the opportunity to grow.”

“The thing about Dr. Woods-Trap is, she sees the light in him. And she is determined in making sure that this light will shine.”

“She is a person who truly understands the circumstances of people and where they come from. Compassion is not pity, and I think Dr. Woods-Trap is a very compassionate person. She’s not given to judgment.”

“This role afforded me the opportunity to pay homage to members of my own family. I had so many uncles and aunts who were teachers, who cared about their students. When I was in high school, one of the things I noticed the most about my teachers is they all continued to study.”

“That’s a real experience for me. I attended segregated schools. I went to school in Houston, Texas during a time of Negro segregation. All my teaching was segregated teaching in those years. They all continued to study.  This woman, by trade, is an anthropologist. Her course Humanities; history and culture combined with literature.  She challenges her students to be creative with their assignments and she watches them all.”

Phylicia Rashad on the phrase “Strong Black Woman”

Phylicia Rashad - david makes man

“I don’t wake up in the morning and say ‘I’m a strong black woman. I’m a woman who needs to be strong and can’t show vulnerability.’ And I’ve been in some circumstances in my life that would crush people. But I don’t need that and I don’t know a human being, who’s a real human being, who does. You wake up  and it’s your day, right”?

The 6th episode of “David Makes Man’ aired last week. Be sure to check out this sincere and beautiful new series.


Ricardo A. Hazell began his career in journalism in 1996 as a Research Intern for the prestigious Editor & Publisher Co. His byline has appeared in The Root, Washington Post, Black Enterprise and he helped define culture within the African Diaspora as Senior Cultural Contributor at The Shadow League. Currently working on the semi-autobiographical novel "Remorse".



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