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Actor Jaden Michael Says Playing a Young Colin Kaepernick Taught Him How to Speak Up for Himself


Photo credit: Marcus Smith/Netflix

Many of us didn’t know Colin Kaepernick when he was in high school but after Jaden Michael’s portrayal of the activist in Colin in Black & White, you may think you have. The 18-year-old Afro-Latino actor is not new to tv with starring roles in Vampires vs. The Bronx and Wonderstruck but being cast in Netflix's limited series about Kaepernick's life may be his most important role.



We recently spoke with Jaden about playing the NFL quarterback, how he prepared for the role and what he hopes viewers will take from the series.

What some of the similarities between you and Colin Kaepernick were at that age?


There were some similarities. We're both biracial teens in America and trying to pursue a professional career at a young age. And that way we share some personality traits. Just having that dedication and focus. But there's a lot of things that we don't have. Like I believe he's far more confident than I am and a load of other things.


We learned so much about Colin and his upbringing specifically in the series. What was the most interesting thing you learned about him that you didn't know?


I didn't know that he was adopted, and a baseball player. I didn't know much about his past. I only knew about his 2014-2015 career a little bit, and his kneeling. And that only goes to show you know only so much about the people you criticize or the people you fascinate yourself with.


Photo Credit: Netflix

Was there anything that you focused on or honed in on when you were preparing for this role?


I was really focused to get the physical side of it right. I always believe that if you're going to approach a character you don't just approach the emotional side you take on everything. So I don't like having doubles. I like doing all my stunts or doing all my sports stuff. So for me, it was very important to be accurate not only from a sports standpoint but also for Colin, making sure that it was stylized the way that Colin does it and the way that Colin plays. But another thing that was pretty important to me was getting his voice right. So in the first couple of episodes, he doesn't really have the Colin dialect or voice that I associate with him. Because he isn't the legend yet. He is just now growing up. And as he starts learning to use his voice, and learning that he has a voice more importantly. I started working with a vocal coach called Liz Himelstein and she helped help me have an authentic Colin voice, and how to speak like him.


When people watch the series is there anything specific that you want them to get out of your portrayal of a young Colin Kaepernick?


I hope people learn the truth. I feel like a lot of people have been misguided or misunderstood as to what his politics are, and what he's truly trying to say. But I hope that they can learn to respect him and learn to truly understand what he's advocating for. And even if you can't agree with what he's advocating for, learning to respect what he put on the line and the years of work that he put towards his NFL career, which he gave up to speak up for someone else.


Were there any gems or tips that you received from Colin or Ms. Ava DuVernay when you were filming this project?


I feel like a lot that I learned is not even from what they said, but from what they did and how they act. Ava commands so much attention and power when she walks into a room because she has so much confidence and she knows what she wants to say, and she knows what she wants to get done. Every moment there's an objective for her and a goal that there is to be had. And I think that's something that I've learned. Learned to speak up for myself and stand up for what I want through both of them.


Colin in Black & White will be available to be streamed on Netflix October 29.

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