Phylicia Rashad on How Her Own Teachers Inspired Her ‘David Makes Man’ Role

David Makes Man -- Ep 103 --
Rod Millington / 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saying life is hard fro 14-year-old David Young (Akili McDowell) is an unfortunate understatement in the raw coming-of-age drama, David Makes Man, from Tarell Alvin McCraney (Oscar-winning co-writer of Moonlight).

As he tries to veer away from trouble in the Miami projects while dealing with his closest friend’s death, caring teacher Dr. Woods-Trap (The Cosby Show‘s Phylicia Rashad, above, with McDowell) steers the prodigy to learning. “David has one world in school and another world apart from it,” says Rashad, noting that response to the show at screenings has revealed to her just how common that’s become. She tells us more.

What’s Dr. Woods-Trap like as a Teacher?

Phylicia Rashad: She appreciates intelligence, respects it. She sees it in all of her students. In David, she sees an opportunity to open vistas for him.

I had teachers who were like this — so brilliant and accomplished in academia they could have been anywhere, but they choose to be where they are for the sake of the people they can influence, whose lives they can uplift and impact.

She tells her students, “Don’t waste our time.” That’s more than a reprimand, isn’t it? It’s a life lesson.

Absolutely. That’s how Tarell Alvin McCraney crafts his scripts — everything has meaning.

You’ve done a lot of drama recently, on stage and TV and in the Creed movies. Would you return to comedy?

I think about comedy. I’m slated to direct Charles Randolph-Wright’s Blue as a Broadway production in 2020, and there’s a great humor there. Maybe one day somebody will come and say, “Hey, how about this?” And I’ll say, “Yay! Let’s do that.”

David Makes Man, Series Premiere, Wednesday, August 14, 10/9c, OWN