Former USF student starring in new show on Oprah Winfrey Network

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – University of South Florida graduate Jimel Atkins is a man who believed in himself and is a perfect example of how handwork and discipline have led to his success.

Atkins is now starring in “David Makes Man,” a new series set to premiere later this month on the Oprah Winfrey Network. 

“There are a few schools here, I studied at performance studios and workshops for the last two years which is actually in Hillsborough,” said Atkins.  

“David Makes Man” centers around a 14-year-old prodigy from the inner city’s low-income housing projects. David’s story unfolds as he grapples with the loss of a close friend, all the while trying to overcome the effects of overwhelming poverty.   

“I play Ray Kelly. I am the stepfather to Seren Kelly and he is David’s best friend in the show. I represent the wealthy life – the better life – if you will. But of course, there is a very strong and very good twist that everyone might be a little bit shocked by”, said Atkins. 

Atkins, who will appear in seven episodes, now works alongside celebrities like the show’s executive producers, Oprah Winfrey and Michael B. Jordan, as well as stage director and Emmy Award-nominated actress Phylicia Rashad.     

“Phylicia is graceful, Oprah is graceful, but you can tell they are serious. From what I understand of Oprah – I only got a chance to meet her once, hopefully, I see her next week – but you can see they are very specific, they take charge. They know who they are,” said Atkins.

Atkins admits before landing the dream role, he paid his dues. He recollects going on close to 400 additions before he landed his current gig.  

“Instead of having my own apartment, I stayed with my mother for two years. Instead of going out, I was in the house reading books and studying other actors and what they did. If you are minimizing your distractions and staying patient, if you believe in putting in the work first, there has to be something that lines up,” said Atkins.

“David Makes Man” premieres Wednesday, Aug. 14 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.

You can also catch Atkins on the latest season of the Netflix series “Mindhunter.” You can follow his latest moves on Instagram.

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