Ava DuVernay on ‘Colin in Black and White’: ‘I keep being drawn to stories of young people’

EXCLUSIVE: DuVernay sat down with theGrio and broke down her latest Netflix series, why she continues to tell sorties of Black youth, and the beauty of being able to tell stories through film

From When They See Us, A Wrinkle in Time, and more, no one captures youth quite like Ava DuVernay, and her latest series on Netflix, Colin in Black and White, continues to do just that.

Fusing Colin Kaepernick‘s youth with cultural and historical context and references, Colin in Black and White paints a portrait of a young boy who is introduced to a world that may not be big enough for his dreams. DuVernay sat down with theGrio and walked through her journey with the series, and what she loves most about filmmaking.

The series stars Jaden Michael as a young Kaepernick and chronicles his coming of age story, theGrio previously reported. While DuVernay was approached by Kaepernick to help tell his story, she explained to theGrio she wasn’t one hundred percent sure it would be able to align with her own style of storytelling.

Ava DuVernay thegrio.com
Ava DuVernay attends the Netflix Limited Series Colin In Black And White Special Screening at The Whitby Hotel on October 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Netflix)

“I wasn’t sure at first that I would be able to do what I like to do in shows, which is explore social, historical and culture impact,” she told theGrio. “But as he started telling me the story of his childhood, and different little episodes and things that happened, I did see a through-line about microaggressions and otherness and privilege and access and all of these things I’m really interested in.”

Using the childhood storyline as a “base,” as DuVernay calls it, allowed her to create something that felt fresh, yet familiar. The creator is, of course, no stranger to telling nuanced portraits of Black youth. She revealed that while she recognizes this, she is still trying to pinpoint exactly why she is so drawn to this specific point in our lives.

“I don’t know why I keep doing it,” she shared. “I don’t have kids in real life for a reason…Storm Reid in A Wrinkle in Time, all of the boys in When They See Us and Jaden in this…I keep being drawn to these stories of young people! There must be something to it that I haven’t analyzed, but I think there is an exuberance, a hope and a world of possibilities that I must be attracted to.” She quipped, “I need to sit on someone’s couch and figure it out.”

Colin Kaepernick thegrio.com
(Credit: Netflix)

For DuVernay, she is not worried about “changing perception” surrounding Kaepernick, per se. She shared, “The beautfiful thing about being a filmmaker is that I can express a story that’s on my heart or something that I want to tell or share, and everyone comes to it with whatever baggage they have, whatever thoughts, ideas, history that they have.” The audience, she reveals, individually enters into the piece from where they are, and ultimately will take different things and lessons from it.

“That is the gift and miracle of being able to tell stories,” she concluded. “I would never try to tell anyone what they see in it. I just hope people watch it, and take from it what they will.”

Colin in Black and White is available to stream now on Netflix.

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