While one went from diving into the end zone as a quarterback to diving headfirst into activism, the other is already an activist whose instrument of choice is a camera.
Colin Kaepernick and Ava DuVernay are those two people. Recently, they’ve teamed up for a limited Netflix series on Kaepernick’s formative years. The project is called “Colin in Black & White,” and it will center on his years as a Black teenager living in Turlock, California, with his white adoptive family.
Much of the series will focus on events in Kaepernick’s life that “led him to become the activist he is today,” Netflix said in its statement announcing the project. He’ll be lending his voice to the show as a narrator as well as appearing as himself in some appearances, and the former NFL player also will be an executive producer for the six-part series.
Reports say that scripts have already been completed and shooting will commence this fall, depending on what COVID-19 health guidelines are in place then.
It hasn’t been announced whether DuVernay will direct any episodes, but she’ll be producing the series through her company ARRAY. Scripts were written by Michael Starrbury, who also lent his pen to DuVernay’s award winning-series “When They See Us.”
Word first came about a DuVernay-Kaepernick collaboration in 2018 when the “Selma” director spoke with Variety, but reports described it as a comedy then. The 2012 Sundance festival Best Director Prize winner sounded off on her eagerness to get started on the project.
“With his act of protest, Colin Kaepernick ignited a national conversation about race and justice with far-reaching consequences for football, culture and for him, personally,” said DuVernay in a statement. “Colin’s story has much to say about identity, sports and the enduring spirit of protest and resilience. I couldn’t be happier than to tell this story with the team at Netflix.”
DuVernay also posted an Instagram message about the series.
“This project has been a joy to work on for the last year with @michaelstarrbury,” she wrote. “I’ve long been fascinated by how people become who they are. The steps we all take to get to ourselves. When it comes to @kaepernick7, those steps track the making of a singular American icon. This series is the origin story of a hero.”
Kaepernick acknowledged the forthcoming project and said working with DuVernay aligns with his belief that more Black people should tell Black stories.
“Too often we see race and Black stories portrayed through a white lens,” he explained. “We seek to give new perspective to the differing realities that Black people face. We explore the racial conflicts I faced as an adopted Black man in a white community, during my high school years. It’s an honor to bring these stories to life in collaboration with Ava for the world to see.”
Kaepernick began kneeling for the national anthem at NFL games in 2016 as a member of the San Francisco 49ers to protest racism and police brutality.
He opted out of his contract with the team at the end of the 2017 season and hasn’t played professionally since.
Many, including Kaepernick, have accused the NFL and league owners of shutting him out of the league because of his activism, and he and former teammate Eric Reid filed a collusion suit, which they settled last year.
But last week, a reporter from NFL Network said that multiple teams were interested in signing Kaepernick, however, they couldn’t give him a tryout due to the current COVID-19 guidelines in place.
DuVernay is one of the people who’s been supporting Kaepernick during his NFL absence, and she boycotted the Super Bowl last year.
“I will not be a spectator, viewer or supporter of the #SuperBowl today in protest of the @NFL’s racist treatment of @Kaepernick7 and its ongoing disregard for the health well-being of all its players,” tweeted DuVernay on February 3, 2019. “To watch the game is to compromise my beliefs. It’s not worth it. #ImWithKap.”
“Love you Sister @ava,” Kaepernick wrote back.