Jaden Michael and Mary-Louise Parker talk ‘Colin in Black and White’

EXCLUSIVE: theGrio sat down with two stars of Ava DuVernay's highly anticipated Netflix series.

Netflix’s latest, Colin in Black and White, tackles famed NFL star and activist Colin Kaepernick‘s youth with a series that fuses a classic coming-of-age story with historical figures.

theGrio sat down with stars of the series Jaden Michael (Young Colin) and Mary-Louise Parker (his mother, Teresa Kaepernick), and broke down what attracted them to the series, what it’s like to tell such a monumental story like Kaepernick’s and more.

Netflix Limited Series Colin In Black And White Premiere
Jaden Michael attends the Netflix Limited Series “Colin in Black and White” Premiere at Los Angeles County Museum of Art on October 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Netflix)

With roles in projects like Vampires Vs. The Bronx and The Get Down, series lead Michael is no newbie to the industry. But he was still very excited when Ava DuVernay offered him the role by phone as he celebrated the premiere of one of his films.

“[Ava] was like, ‘Hey Jaden, you know, I just want to say, you know I was just rewatching some of your audition tapes and I just want to say you did an excellent job,'” Michael said of DuVernay’s call. He thought for sure this meant he did not get the role, before the director eventually said, “you got the role by the way!”

While he tried his best to be “eloquent and proper” while thanking DuVernay on the phone, the second they hung up, Michael joined his family and screamed in excitement.

This role taught Michael plenty about Kaepernick that he didn’t know beforehand, like the fact that he is adopted and that he also played basketball and baseball. While playing such huge public figure can be daunting, Michael insisted that he approached the story with a blank slate in the beginning.

The 74th Annual Tony Awards - Arrivals
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 26: Mary-Louise Parker attends the 74th Annual Tony Awards at Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

“The first scenes are Colin [as] very innocent, very impressionable…a little uncomfortable, he doesn’t know why. But as he starts noticing these microaggressions and these situations, he starts to realize why he feels uncomfortable, and ultimately rebels against those social norms.”

Parker, a Tony Award-winning actress known for her roles in Weeds and more, shared that she is “honored” to be apart of Kaepernick’s story, calling the figure, “heroic.” She gushed, “I was really honored to be apart of his story…my admiration for him is just boundless. I think he’s heroic and I think history will remember him as a hero, despite whatever dissent there was at the time when he did take a knee.”

Parker continued, “It’s bigger than courage what he did…it was astonishing.”

Check out the full interview with Michael and Paker above.

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Acting Up”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!