She may only be a teenager, but Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas (Imani Hakim and Sydney Mikayla) already has a TV movie based on her incredible life story and the dedication to gymnastics. Her hard work culminated with her participation in the 2012 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, where she earned Team Competition and Individual All-round gold medals, placing Gabby and her teammates – known as “The Fierce Five” — among the world’s all-time greats in gymnastics.
Of course, Gabby’s success wouldn’t have been possible without the support and love of her family, who helped the young gymnast to overcame overwhelming odds to become the first African American ever to be named Individual All-round Champion in artistic gymnastics at the Olympics.
Mikayla will portray Douglas during her childhood, while Hakim will play the gold medalist as a teenager and young adult. The real-life Gabby Douglas will appear in the film, which also stars Peabody Award-winning actress Regina King as her mother Natalie.
Just in time for the winter Olympics, “The Gabby Douglas Story” airs tonight on Lifetime at 8 p.m. Here is what King had to say about her latest project:
Did you watch Gabby perform during the Olympics?
Of course. Absolutely. Didn’t everyone in America watch her?
Playing her mom, who is alive, did you get the chance to meet her?
I didn’t get a chance to meet her physically until we started shooting, but prior to shooting, she and I got to have some pretty extensive conversations. I feel if you are lucky enough to play someone who is still alive, you do want to ask questions to know more about their history so that you can hopefully include the little nuances that make everyone an individual.
Is this film inspirational? Will it make people want to go out and try to achieve more with their lives?
Absolutely. I don’t know if it will make you want to go out and achieve more with your life-type of thing as much as it is about how much of an inspiration you can be in someone else’s life. Gaby’s mother sacrificed a lot because she saw the gift that her daughter had. We all have a purpose here. Sometimes the purpose is to help bring someone else’s purpose to fruition.
Gabby is in the film in another role. What is your take on her?
I have seen a teenager. There is nothing particularly odd about her, like “Oh, my God. I have never seen a teenager like this.” When it comes to her talent, yes, absolutely. But she is on her cell phone like any other teenager, tries to avoid going to school like any other teenager and all of the things that regular teenagers do. I think Natalie has done a good job of keeping the world around her — outside of gymnastics — as normal as possible.
You also have worked on “The Big Bang Theory” What was that like?
It is as amazing as “Southland” was because the crew and the actors on that show are the same as our family on “Southland.” They all want to be a part of something good, so everyone gives 120 percent. Everyone is happy to working, so that energy you see it on set, you see it in the final product, so yes, it is lighter, but I think everyone involved appreciates it the same as we did and do on “Southland.”
The first couple of episodes I did it was a lot of work because I was going back and forth between “Southland” and “Big Bang.” Literally, one of the days, I was shooting a scene on “Southland” that morning, then came back to shoot the show on “Big Bang” that afternoon. That was a lot of dialogue to remember and to turn off seriousness and become a little lighter. That was, I won’t say difficult, but it was a welcome challenge.
Then the last episode, “Southland” was canceled, so I was able to enjoy the cast and crew even more.
“The Gabby Douglas Story” airs tonight at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.