By Lesley Goldberg
June 29, 2020
Colin Kaepernick’s formative years are becoming a Netflix series.
The athlete and activist is teaming with Ava DuVernay for Colin in Black & White, a scripted limited drama that has been picked up straight to series at the streaming giant.
The six-episode series will examine Kaepernick’s adolescent life, focusing on his high school years and the acts and experiences that led him to become the activist he is today. Kaepernick will appear as himself as the narrator of the series, which will cast an actor to play the younger version of the star quarterback.
Kaepernick in 2016 protested racial injustice, police brutality and systematic oppression when he kneeled during the national anthem ahead of a San Francisco 49ers game. His act of protest was, at the time, considered polarizing with both NFL officials and fans, eventually drawing the ire of President Trump, who urged team owners to fire players who protest during the national anthem. Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017 and filed a lawsuit against the NFL and its owners, alleging that they colluded to keep him out of the league. He remains a free agent. More recently, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minnesota police, Kaepernick has become another face of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Emmy nominee Michael Starrbury will pen the script and serve as exec producer alongside DuVernay and Kaepernick. Starrbury previously teamed with DuVernay on Netflix’s Peabody-winning limited series When They See Us, based on the Central Park 5.
“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,” said DuVernay. “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.”
Per Netflix, the drama was conceived in 2019 and completed the scripts in May. The streamer describes the series as offering an introspective 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.
“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.”
Colin in Black & White is DuVernay’s latest TV series, following When They See Us, OWN’s Queen Sugar and Cherish the Day. The Netflix series falls outside of her overall deal with Warner Bros. TV Group.
“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, vp originals at 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.”
Kaepernick has been expanding his Hollywood presence of late. In February, he signed a deal with Audible for multiple projects, including the audio version of his forthcoming memoir. He is self-publishing the book, about the life experiences that led him to risk his career by kneeling during the national anthem, via his Kaepernick Publishing banner.
Starrbury is repped by Circle of Confusion and attorney Rob Szymanski.