By Joe Otterson
June 29, 2020
Colin Kaepernick and Ava DuVernay are teaming for a scripted series about the NFL quarterback’s high school years at Netflix, Variety has learned.
The six-episode series is currently titled “Colin in Black & White.” It will provide a look at Kaepernick’s early life as a Black child growing up with a white adopted family and his journey to become a great quarterback while defining his identity. The series will also explore what led him to become a civil rights advocate.
“Too often we see race and Black stories portrayed through a white lens,” said Kaepernick. “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.”
The series was originally conceived in 2019 and completed writing in May. Kaepernick will serve as narrator in addition to executive producing. DuVernay will also executive produce. Michael Starrbury serves as writer and executive producer.
The series reunites DuVernay and Starrbury, who previously collaborated on the critically-acclaimed Netflix limited series “When They See Us.” DuVernay created that series and served as director and executive producer, with Starrbury writing. The show went on to receive 16 Emmy nominations, including one for best writing for a limited series. The pair is also currently working on the HBO movie “Battle of Versailles.”
“With his act of protest, Colin Kaepernick ignited a national conversation about race and justice with farreaching consequences for football, culture and for him, personally,” DuVernay said. “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.”
Kaepernick played six seasons for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, setting multiple records and receiving numerous accolades. In 2016, he received worldwide attention when he began kneeling during the national anthem before games in protest of police brutality and systemic racism in America. After that season ended, Kaepernick became a free agent and went unsigned by any other NFL team. He filed a lawsuit against the league, claiming they were working against him to keep him from playing. Kaepernick and the league reached a settlement in 2019, the terms of which were not disclosed. He remains a free agent to this day.
“We’re proud to bring Colin’s experience and his creative vision to life as he joins Ava to share his powerful story and message with all our members around the world,” said Cindy Holland, vice president of original content for Netflix. “It is an unparalleled union of two strong and defining voices coming together to tell the story about what it’s like to be Black in America.”
This is now the fourth Netflix project DuVernay has set up. In addition to “Colin in Black & White” and “When They See Us,” DuVernay previously directed, produced, and co-wrote the documentary “13th” for the streamer. It examined racial inequality in America’s prison system and mass incarceration. It received an Oscar nomination for best documentary feature in 2017. She is currently working on another documentary for the streamer about Nipsey Hussle. Her other TV projects include “Queen Sugar” and “Cherish the Day” at OWN and directing the pilot for the drama “DMZ” at HBO Max.
She is repped by CAA and Del Shaw Moonves.
In addition to “When They See Us” and “Battle of Versailles,” Starrbury previously co-created the Comedy Central animated series “Legends of Chamberlain Heights,” on which he also voiced the character Malik.
He is repped by Circle of Confusion and Eclipse Law Corporation.