Filmmaker Spike Lee has officially started production of Colin Kaepernick‘s upcoming docuseries for ESPN. The project was first announced in July 2020 as part of a broader first-look deal between ESPN’s parent company The Walt Disney Channel and Kapernick’s Ra Vision Media.
Lee, the first Black president of the Cannes Film Festival‘s jury, confirmed his involvement via Instagram yesterday. (Feb. 3) along with a press statement from ESPN.
“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 more than a year-and-half ago. “I look forward to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.”
The yet-untitled project will be different from Ava DuVernay’s Black & White, the biographical coming-of-age Netflix series that showed what shaped the former NFL quarterback-turned-social activist. Instead, viewers will get the story directly from Kapernick, and it incorporates personal interviews and media to learn his point-of-view.
ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said the following in July 2020: “Developing exceptional storytelling told through a wide array of voices is at the core of who we are at ESPN. Colin has had a singular path as both an athlete and an activist, and, as the nation continues to confront racism and social injustice, it feels particularly relevant to hear Colin’s voice on his evolution and motivations.”
Sports journalist Jemele Hill will also be a producer on the project. Since leaving ESPN and its sub-brand The Undefeated in 2018, she has continued using her voice to address the conflicts between race and sports as well as beyond that, including her own podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered to the show Cari & Jemele (Won’t) Stick to Sports with Cari Champion.
“Colin’s vision for this collaboration isn’t just about content, but empowerment,” Hill wrote in 2020 about her role in Kaepernick’s docuseries. “He was adamant that his work be surrounded by black and brown voices. It also was important for me to use my influence to elevate these voices, particularly inside of ESPN. I am truly grateful.”