Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has found himself suddenly in demand again, and the racial justice activist announced Monday that he’d inked a first-look deal with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN to produce “scripted and unscripted stories that deal with race, social injustice and the quest for equity,” including a documentary series about his own life, per Variety.
Kaepernick, who left the National Football League in 2017 after turning down a one-year contract with the 49ers, has signed several lucrative deals of late, beginning with a multi-year agreement, multi-million dollar contract with Nike. He also recently inked a deal with Netflix for another autobiographical project, “Colin in Black & White,” which, the streaming network says, will “examine Kaepernick’s high school years to illuminate the experiences that shaped his advocacy.”
Critically acclaimed director Ava DuVernay has signed on to help handle that six-episode series, which will reportedly debut later this year.
The new Disney/ESPN projects, part of a long-term partnership between the network and Kaepernick’s Ra Vision Media production company, will have a focus on social justice and will fall largely under ESPN’s “The Undefeated” venue, which “focuses on matters of race in sports,” but could involve collaborations between Kaepernick and other Disney media properties, like animation studio Pixar and streaming network Hulu.
The partnership will “elevate important stories of lives too often unseen and to deliver them to a vast audience across The Walt Disney Company,” the senior vice president of ESPN’s The Undefeated said in a statement. We want to continue to call attention to the issues of racial injustice that America is wrestling with, and do that in new, compelling ways.”
“I am excited to announce this historic partnership with Disney across all of its platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,” Kaepernick said Monday, according to Variety. “I look forward to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.”
The project will include input from Jemele Hill, a fellow racial justice advocate and former ESPN employee who was terminated from the network following comments she made about President Donald Trump — and the network’s decision to scale back on political content.
“The new series will utilize new interviews as well as never-seen-before archival material that documents the most recent years of Kapernick’s life,” Variety reports. “The athlete has enlisted Jemele Hill, the journalist who previously worked for both ESPN and The Undefeated, as a producer on the project.”
This docu-series, in contrast to the Netflix docu-series, will focus on Kaepernick’s decision to initiate an anti-racism protest in 2016, which involved him kneeling during the NFL’s patriotic pre-game festivities, including the national anthem. The protest eventually took root across the NFL, triggering a nationwide outcry. Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017 but went unsigned after turning down a short contract extension with the 49ers.
After several failed attempts to return to the NFL, Kaepernick became a full-time activist, and, following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis police, returned to national prominence as a leading voice of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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