By Ashleigh Ewald and Sanjna Desai, VOX Teen Staff
The new Netflix limited series “Colin in Black and White” is about the teenage experiences of Colin Kaepernick, the pro football player and activist whose kneeling at NFL football games made the internet react. Throughout the show, viewers become informed about the harsh realities of discrimination Kaepernick has faced throughout his life, on and off the field.
After watching the first episode, viewers will already have a sense of the sacrifices one must make to pursue what they love and what it takes to succeed.
“Colin in Black and White” emphasizes that there are many more improvements that need to be made in today’s society relating to how we view other races and the unconscious racial biases that cause people to treat others differently before getting to know someone’s character.
In the Netflix show, the high school version of Kaepernick is portrayed on-screen by 18-year-old actor Jaden Michael. Watching the younger Colin, the audience gains a greater understanding of past experiences and the events that led to where Kaepernick is today.
VOX ATL teen reporters had the privilege of interviewing Jaden Michael this month during a Zoom call. VOX ATL reporter Ashleigh Ewald asked Jaden about what he wishes teens would take away from seeing characters that look like them on film.
“When I was a kid I used to love this film called ‘Imagine That,’” said Michael. “And it was the first time I saw someone that looked like me on screen and who was my age especially. That affected me [and] really inspired me to want to start acting and find all those colors that I found on film.”
Later adding, “I think the most important part is to stay steadfast. Find your passion and stay steadfast on it and dedicate yourself to it.”
Jaden, who has achieved high levels of success in the entertainment industry for his age, shows other young people they truly can accomplish anything if they put their minds to it and remain persistent.
He also expressed when young people watch films they can see themselves as the characters and how “you start to learn more about yourself, and you might see something that inspires you to pursue your passion.”
Toward the end of his interview with VOX ATL teens, Michael explained that from a young age a big facet of his identity is that he is half-Latino from his mother’s side and half-Black from his father’s side. Growing up, he learned that he had to embrace both sides in order to be comfortable in his own skin as a young biracial actor.
Members of Generation Z will likely feel represented watching Jaden Michael’s performance in “Colin in Black and White” because they are young people who represent our generation working for positive change and empowering people to find their voice.
Those who watch “Colin in Black and White” and feel the impact of this representation can transform from being an observer into a change maker. Once becoming inspired by powerful stories, individuals can develop the initiative to go after their passion and dreams. Seeing Jaden Michael as a biracial young actor illustrates how you can never be too young to pursue what you love and make a difference in the world while doing so.