Following the huge success of “The Last Dance” and renewed discussions about systemic racism in America, Disney is partnering with one of the most notable voices in the country: Colin Kaepernick.
The company announced a production deal with the former NFL quarterback turned activist on Monday. The first project between the two will be a docuseries from ESPN Films about Kaepernick’s life and journey from San Francisco 49ers quarterback to civil rights leader.
“Using extensive new interviews and a vast never-before-seen archive that documents his last five years, Kaepernick will tell his story from his perspective,” Disney said in a statement. The company did not announce when the series would air.
Disney also said the deal would focus on “telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice, and the quest for equity.” It will also “provide a new platform to showcase the work of Black and Brown directors and producers.”
The deal reaches across Disney’s platforms, including Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, The Undefeated, and its digital animation studio, Pixar.
“During this unprecedented time, The Walt Disney Company remains committed to creating diverse and inclusive content that resonates and matters,” Bob Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, said in a statement. “Colin’s experience gives him a unique perspective on the intersection of sports, culture and race, which will undoubtedly create compelling stories that will educate, enlighten and entertain, and we look forward to working with him on this important collaboration.”
Kaepernick is excited to announce the “historic partnership” with Disney to “elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,” he said in a statement.
For Disney, the partnership opens space for the company to address race and work with more diverse voices with the help of Kaepernick. The announcement comes after weeks of national protests across the country following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hands of police officers in Minnesota.
The Kaepernick docuseries would also allow Disney and ESPN to create a film about one of most interesting and talked about athletes of the last decade.
ESPN found success with its film unit lately thanks to “The Last Dance,” a docuseries about Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls. The series set viewership records and acted as an unexpected savior for the network during the coronavirus pandemic.
The former athlete has been growing his media business in recent weeks.
Kaepernick will be joining the board at Medium, the blogging site said last month. His new publishing company, Kaepernick Publishing, will produce stories for the platform about race.
He hasn’t played football since 2017 after kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to social justice issues and police brutality.
However, last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he’d support a team if they chose to sign Kaepernick.
“Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s going to take a team to make that decision,” Goodell said. “But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.”