Eighteen-year-old Jaden Micheal and 15-year-old Saniyya Sidney are having career-defining moments as Michael stars in Netflix’s Colin in Black & White and Sidney stars in King Richard. The talented teens took time out of their schedules to talk about their new projects in the latest issue of Teen Vogue. Take a look below at some of what these two incredibly talented individuals had to say!
Jaden Michael on experiencing a lot of “firsts” through Colin in Black & White.
There were a lot of things that I experienced through the show. I’ve never been to a real high school before or a real middle school before. I’d never played football. I’d never pitched a baseball before. And I never had prom or girlfriends. I experienced a lot of firsts through Colin.
Jaden Michael on commonalities that he shares with Colin Kapernick as an Afro-Latino actor.
I’d never imagined that he and I could have anything in common. Lo and behold, while I’m doing my research and while I’m having conversations with Colin, I’m realizing how much we are alike. And how much of our history and our childhoods have similarities as a biracial teen trying to understand why you feel separated or alienated. Or why you feel misrepresented in certain groups.
Jaden Micheal on the one moment that stood out as a symbol of the effect his role would have on others.
A man who worked in the props department approached Jaden “near tears” about his performance.
He was telling me about how he was considering turning down the project because he doesn’t agree with Colin’s political motivations and his kneeling, to be blunt. Through watching Colin’s story unfold through the lens and through my eyes, he has completely been enlightened and understands what Colin is advocating for, why he knelt, his politics… For me that was really motivating and profound to hear that your art can change someone so deeply.
Saniyya Sideny on portraying such a physical role.
Saniyya not only had to learn how to play tennis, she did so by having to master the sport with her non-dominant hand. (Sidney is left-handed.) Additionally, the 15-year-old sustained a hip injury on set, but pushed through asking, “…can I play? That was everything to me,” because that’s what Venus would do.
I think for my parents, they had a little bit of fear. I had to say, ‘I’m ready. I want you guys to be ready with me. Let me go out there and let me show you that I can do this.’ And my parents [had to] kind of step back a little and let me do me.
Will Smith on Saniyya Sidney’s moment to shine in the movie.
In the movie, Saniyya had an extremely emotional moment that can be seen in the movie’s extended trailer. The moment consisted of a conversation between Venus, portrayed by Sidney, and her father, portrayed by Will Smith, regarding Venus’s desire to go pro. Smith said that this moment was the moment for Sidney to shine.
The important thing for me with that scene was to set an environment for you to be able to win. For me, the thing was to just be with you in that moment, to be able to connect. I had a similar moment like that with James Avery as Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air]. He had been a rock for me in my first real, big, dramatic scene on Fresh Prince. I was trying to live up to what James was for me.
Smith and Sidney both on pursuing your dreams.
In the interview, Saniyya told Smith that, “she hopes it, [the movie], will encourage other families, especially young children who are working hard to pursue their dreams.” To which Smith replied once again complimenting his co-star:
“You stepped up every single time. It was actually fun to watch you fall and stand up. It was so beautiful to watch you develop your grit. Dreams demand endurance. It demands patience.
To read the interview in its entirety, click here. Colin in Black & White and King Richard are both now showing on Netflix and HBOMax/in theaters respectively.