Colin Kaepernick signs first-look deal with Walt Disney

Colin Kaepernick’s journey from San Francisco 49ers quarterback to civil-rights activist will be chronicled in a documentary series developed by ESPN Films as part of a first-look deal between Walt Disney and Kapernick’s Ra Vision Media production company.

Under terms of the pact, announced Monday, Disney and Ra Vision will emphasize scripted and unscripted stories that deal with race, social injustice and the quest for equity, and work to showcase directors and producers of color. Disney said the agreement would extend across its units, including Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar and The Undefeated, an ESPN venue that focuses on matters of race in sports. Kaepernick is slated to work closely with The Undefeated, which Disney said would expand its portfolio across the company.

“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 in a prepared statement. “I look forward to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.”

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. The athlete has enlisted Jemele Hill, the journalist who previously worked for both ESPN and The Undefeated, as a producer on the project. ESPN executives Libby Geist, Kevin Merida and Connor Schell, wil executive produce the project for ESPN. Further details are to be revealed at a later date, Disney said.

The agreement with Disney extends Kaepernick’s reach into media and entertainment. He was recently named to the board of directors of digital publisher Medium, as part of an agreement that will have him involved with content creation. The former football player has also worked with popular sports apparel kingpin Nike Inc.

The pact could highlight what may evolve into a growing emphasis on telling more stories about people and communities that have gone underrepresented in U.S. popular culture. While TV networks and movie studios have produced many works on Black and Latino characters and stories – they may range from FX’s “Atlanta” to Netflix’s “Dear White People”- such projects have not represented the majority of content. Protests over the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police earlier this year have sparked new conversations across the nation about how people from different communities treat one another, and the media sector has, like other industries, begun to scramble in response.

“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,” said Jimmy Piatro, ESPN’s president.

The Undefeated intends to partner with Kaepernick to “elevate important stories of lives too often unseen and to deliver them to a vast audience across The Walt Disney Company,” said Kevin Merida, senior vice president and editor in chief. “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.”

Disney feels Kaepernick’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,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s executive chairman.

-Variety