DuVernay and Kaepernick first connected after they met at an event, with the athlete later reaching out to her asking to help him share his story.
"He actually reached out and said, 'I'm looking to tell my story,'" she recalled. "And so we started talking and here we are."
Colin in Black and White features Jaden Michael as a young Colin before he becomes the cultural icon and activist known to the world today. The show is described as a coming-of-age story that follows the former NFL player during his youth as he tackles the obstacles of race, class and culture as a Black adopted child of a white family.
"We don't know enough about what's going on in his head day-to-day," DuVernay said of people not knowing enough about Kaepernick. "He's been so wise in saying, 'Imma let everyone talk about me and I'm just going to act. Instead of talk, I'm going to act. I'm going to talk through my actions.' In this, he actually expresses himself verbally. This is probably going to be the most that people actually have heard him talk in many years."
As for what makes DuVernay be able to tell people's stories, the Selma director admits, "I'm not sure."
"But I am grateful that people trust me with their stories, whether it was dealing with the King family in Selma, or the Exonerated Five and their families with When They See Us. And with this, just what an honor for someone like Colin Kaepernick to say, 'I entrust you with my story. Help me express myself.' For me, it's about respecting them and treating them the way that I want to be treated if I needed someone to tell me their story."
It was 2016 when the athlete first took a knee to protest racial injustice and police brutality. In the years since, he's been seen as both a hero and a pariah.
In a previous sit-down DuVernay, as well as Mary-Louise Parker who stars as Kaepernick's mother, Teresa, they shared insight on the football player's life growing up a Black kid with white parents, and how that shaped his future. Hear what they shared in the video below.
Colin in Black and White premieres on Netflix on Oct. 29.