THE GABBY DOUGLAS STORY
GABBY DOUGLAS INTERVIEWED
Gabby Douglas has been America’s Sweetheart since the 2012 Summer Olympics. She has countless girls looking up to her as a role model and is always a class act. Now America will get an inside look at her life tonight when Lifetime airs The Gabby Douglas Story. She recently talked to the media to promote the movie and made us fall in love with her even more.
QUESTION: What were your first reactions when you were approached to do a film about your life?
GABBY: When I was approached to do a film about my life story I said yes because it’s kind of different from the book. You actually get to see the challenges and the struggles and my life story and in movies so I was like absolutely. It sounded like a very amazing opportunity so my family and I said yes. And during the whole movie it was a really cool and fun process. They had to pick the younger siblings and then the older siblings so it was really cool. So it was really fun but I never thought a movie would come out about my life story.
QUESTION: What did you find challenging about this? Was it learning how to act or was it being in the moment?
GABBY: I appear in the beginning of the movie, but didn't have to learn lines.
QUESTION: How involved were you behind the scenes? Did you get to be involved in casting who’s playing you? Did you get to advise them on points of your life or how to do certain tumbles, certain gymnastic moves or were you sort of just like a spectator that put together your story for you?
GABBY: I was pretty much involved. Me and my mom were involved. Lifetime kept us in the loop with everything. They would send us the script, what do you think or they’d send us who was portraying us and they’d send me Imani's lines. She’d do some lines on camera and they’d send them over to us to see how she’d act and we said yes. Yes, we were kept in the loop and went on the set and I’d give my input about how this move would be done or how this competition would be. For the most part they had it right too so we were pretty much in the loop.
QUESTION: And what did you think of the performances of the actresses playing you both athletic and as actors?
GABBY: As actors and as athletes I thought they did an amazing job. Sydney, the character who played the younger Gabby Douglas -- the younger version of me -- I thought she did an excellent job. She was flipping everywhere, tumbling. She was so bubbly and energetic and I was definitely like that when I was very young. And also the older Imani, she played a very well version of me when I was older. I kind of took life a little bit too seriously when she played well and then at the end I started to become very open and just very outgoing.
QUESTION: About the safety concerns at Sochi, do you think they’ll do everything they can to make sure all the athletes and competitors are safe?
GABBY: Yes. I think they’ll do what they need to keep their athletes safe and comfortable.
QUESTION: Are you going to be hoping to go to Rio in 2016?
GABBY: Yes. I’m training right now and everything’s going smoothly and hopefully I’ll be competing by this year and yes, the main goal is 2016.
QUESTION: I’m curious if there’s anything from your book that you would’ve liked to see in the movie that didn’t make it?
GABBY: I think it’s very different because - no not really because the movie and the book kind of save each other but then the movie kind of has a little bit more like intense parts. You actually get to see how we were living in the beginning and how everything was. But I’m really satisfied with the movie, how it came out.
QUESTION: Now that you’re seeing behind the scenes and the inner workings -- I know you did a little bit of acting -- do you have a desire to go into this field after your athletic career is over?
GABBY: Sure. Yes, acting is fun. I’ve gone to a couple TV shows and I’d definitely want to pursue it.
QUESTION: And we just celebrated the Grammys in the best of music and I’m just curious if there’s a favorite song or songs that you’re listening to on your training now. What are you listening to that works for you well while you’re training?
GABBY: I like upbeat music. I like to listen to Katy Perry or Beyonce or Taylor Swift.
QUESTION: Can you sing?
QUESTION: I wanted to know a little bit about you as a person so can you tell me about your faith journey, kind of when you became a Christian and how that relationship with God has impacted both your life and your gymnastics.
GABBY: Faith plays a big role in my life and it started when I was very young. My mom used to - she involved my siblings and I into - she introduced us into the Bible and about Jesus and it’s been a part of my life for such a long time. It plays a big role in my life and we do Bible studies and if you watch the Olympics footage or any footage and you can see my mouth moving, that’s me praying. I always have to pray before a competition or before I’m about to compete.
QUESTION: So when you’re praying and you’re prepping for the competition what’s your conversation look like with God? Are you praying for gold? Are you praying for no injuries?
GABBY: Kind of both. I just pray that I have a good routine and it’s a flowed and safe routine and all my skills are just beautiful and are exquisite, that kind of thing.
QUESTION: And you had mentioned before about being bullied or kind of having some hard times. What advice would you give to somebody who maybe feels defeated or feels like others are trying to hold them down to make themselves be better?
GABBY: If they’re being bullied I’d tell them to speak up, tell an adult or a friend and if you feel like you’ve been defeated just keep going. And I know that may sound like, “What, keep going? But I’m so down.” I had a point in my life when I had my ups and downs and six months out before the Olympics I wanted to quit because I was at my lowest point and I was homesick and things in the gym were getting really hard for me since it was pressed time - it was a pressed downtime because of the Olympics and I wanted to quit and work at Chic-Fil-A or do another sport. But it was my foundation that kept me on track of saying hey, please don’t give up. So guys if you feel defeated keep going. You don’t want to look back and have regrets. Just keep pushing through and you guys can do it.
QUESTION: With the book and the movie and other appearances that you do, why do you feel a responsibility or an importance in sharing your story with others?
GABBY: I just want them to see of course yes, my life story but I want them to see that things are possible. And I went through some things in my life that were very difficult and I went through struggles and I want them to see that it is possible. And if they’re going through something in their life I want them to know that they can overcome it.
QUESTION: I wanted to go back to the faith part for just a moment. I know it’s a big part of your life and it’s come up in interviews and articles and things like that elsewhere but I felt that your faith was absent from the majority of the film. Do you see it that way or have any comment on that?
GABBY: I think in the film or the end of the film -not really. In real life it’s still there but in the movie I think it’s really focused on my life story. I don’t really feel like it’s distant.
QUESTION: What about the bullying issue? In the film we see the actress portraying you explaining that your mom had told you to let her know if anybody had ever said anything and later she asked her mother about her nose. But otherwise you really don’t see any concerns about bullying or any of the issues regarding your hair or other things that you commented on in other interviews. Any thoughts on why the bullying didn’t play a major part in the movie?
GABBY: Me and my mom and people that were in the loop with the movie, we just felt like we didn’t want to touch on it again because it’s like the movie’s something more like the challenges and the difficulties and we didn’t want to put the hair issue in there because we really weren’t focused on what people had to say about my hair. It was the road to London.
QUESTION: Did you donate any personal items to the film like posters from your bedroom or leotards that we saw the actress wear or any other props?
GABBY: I don’t know if I donated any personal things.
QUESTION: You’re going to be working for Inside Edition. Tell us a little bit about that. How do you prepare for that kind of a gig and are you nervous at all?
GABBY: Yes. I’m a correspondent for Inside Edition for the Super Bowl and I’m really excited because I’m a really big fan of football. I’m just a little sad that my team didn’t make it but it’s all good, maybe next year. I’m a Patriots fan. I'm on the field and I’m going to have such a fun time. This is going to be my first time at the Super Bowl. It’s going to be so different because I’ve always been sitting at home watching it so it’s going to be just different but I’m really excited about it. I’m just going to be myself and just enjoy my time out on the field.
QUESTION: I was kind of interested in how you were first approached about doing this TV movie?
GABBY: Well I think they approached my mom or my agent, my manager and then my mom told me that Lifetime wanted to do a movie and we all agreed and said yes. It was really exciting and it’s a great opportunity to see my life on film. It’s really cool but at the same time it’s a little overwhelming.
QUESTION: I’m a really big fan of Regina King and I know that she’s going to be playing the part of your mother. What was it like meeting her?
GABBY: She is amazing. She’s such a doll and she played my mom so well. Me and my sister were joking around, “Mom she even played a better you. ”That’s how we were saying she did. She did a fantastic job portraying my mom and she was definitely on point.
QUESTION: The Winter games are going to be starting pretty soon and I was just kind of interested in what events are you most looking forward to seeing?
GABBY: I’m really looking forward to seeing figure skating.
QUESTION: What was it like standing on the podium when you were accepting your gold medal because that’s something a lot of us will only be able to dream of ever accomplishing
GABBY: It was truly such an honor to stand on the podium and all I could think about was the effort in the gym, determination and sacrifice that me and my family have put in the gym. It finally paid off.
QUESTION: Has it sunk in, just the magnitude of what you’ve accomplished in your life at such a young age?
GABBY: I think it’s still sinking in. When I was at the Olympics and I had won, a lot of people were saying it’s not going to sink in until you get back home. And when I got back home I think at that point it was still sinking in because I had a lot of fans and media and it was just amazing of all the people that were there and rooting for me and it was an incredible feeling. And I think it’s really going to sink in when I’m a little bit older and I see the impact I fully made.
QUESTION: So when people see this movie on Lifetime and they get to experience your story and all of the emotion and the passion that lies in it, what do you hope that they walk away with? Is it inspiration or what’s the message you hope that resonates with people?
GABBY: I just hope that they’ll become inspired and motivated in their own lives and to think okay if she can do it then I can do it. If she can overcome the obstacles that she overcame then I can overcome this one in my life and I’m going to go after my dream and achieve my goals and I won’t let anything or anyone stop me. So I just want them to be inspired.
QUESTION: You definitely seem to have a very level head and even a wisdom to you about what you’re doing and what you’re passionate about and so I’m interested to see what was maybe something you consider as the best piece of advice that someone gave to you and who was the person who gave it to you.
GABBY: I think my brother and my mom. I remember when I was at my lowest point and I wanted to quit, work at Chic-Fil-A fast food restaurant or enjoy a different sport and they told me just to keep fighting and just don’t give up. And my mom, I remember my mom saying I don’t want you to have regret. I don’t want you to come home and be sitting on the couch and be watching the Olympics and say I wish I would’ve been there. She’d just say just stick it out. Just push through and you can do it. And hey, if I didn’t make it at least we could all say we gave it our best shot.
QUESTION: So I’m interested or curious to know why Chic-Fil-A? Was there a particular reason why you say Chic-Fil-A?
GABBY: They have good sandwiches. They have really good food.
QUESTION: You’re two years out now from one of the greatest accomplishments of your life. What direction do you want to go in now? It seems like corresponding is definitely an opportunity but is there anywhere that you want to go in particular from here, any type of industry that you want to venture into?
GABBY: I think right now I’m really focusing on training. I really want to compete by this year and hopefully you guys will see me. And I know my main goal is in the Olympics 2016 in Brazil so I’m training really hard for that. That’s one of my main targets right now.
QUESTION: We get to see the glory of all of your hard work. We get to see the end results but it’s not very often that people really understand what goes into your training and what it takes to be able to go out there and do what you do and do it well, exceptionally well. So can you give some type of insight into what the training routine is like and just maybe how often you train even?
GABBY: You’re so right because people don’t see any training or training sessions. They only see out on the competition floor where a beautiful masterpiece, a beautiful routine, a beautiful makeup. But behind the scenes there’s a lot that goes in. I do six days a week. I have Sundays off and I do about four to six hours in the gym depending on what day it is because sometimes my gym schedule is different each day. And man, it’s just intense. A lot of numbers, doing it over and over and over again, it’s just challenging in the gym and it’s very tough.
QUESTION: Gabby now has become almost a brand. Your Lifetime movie, you’re on cereal boxes, you’re everywhere. How do you separate Gabby the person from Gabby the brand? How much input do you have in on how you’re marketed and what you appear on and don’t appear on and what is it that you use to keep yourself grounded as much as you are? You’ve done more than many adults have done and yet you seem very grounded. What’s that piece that keeps you focused?
GABBY: Well I’m really blessed to have such a supportive family I do and they definitely keep me grounded. My sisters, my brother, my mom, we were just raised up just being humble and my mom taught us to never forget where you came from. So my mom definitely I’d have to say raised us well and my faith also keeps me grounded and humble and I think it’s all sorts of things. Gymnastics, it keeps me humble too, down to earth because I realize when I start getting cocky and being like yes I can do this, I start messing up more. So in gymnastics you have to be very disciplined. So it’s all the different sorts of things that keep my head from being too blown up.
QUESTION: Is there one thing that because you focus on this a little bit in the movie that you wanted to be normal. Is there one thing that if you could just pull that one moment you could go back and live as a regular young girl or prom? Is there anything you miss or has it all been worth the sacrifices to accomplish what you’ve accomplished?
GABBY: It’s all been worth the sacrifice and my mom also taught me and my siblings too about perspective. I used to get mad when I didn’t go school shopping. I’m like, “Why am I not going school shopping or picking out school outfits?” and my mom was like, “Gabrielle, not everyone gets to go Italy for a competition” and I’m like you know what, you’re so right. So I had to change my perspective and people invite me to proms or homecoming dances so I get to feel like normal. I get to experience what the prom life is like or me and my friends hang out at the mall or have sleepovers so I sort of - when I was younger I was like well, I kind of want to be normal but when I - growing up I realized that I kind of get to experience both sides.
QUESTION: I really enjoyed the quote “Today should always be better than yesterday.” Is that something your mom would actually say that to you guys?
GABBY: Yes. She used to tell us back to the quote to Scriptures.
QUESTION: How do you live by that quote today?
GABBY: I live by that quote because I feel like yes, the day before or today should be better than the day before and I use that in gym a lot. It’s just motivation that keeps me going. You have to find something that motivates you, that drives you to want to do the thing that you love. The Olympics is driving me to in the gym and bust my butt every single day in the gym, just give 100%.
QUESTION: It was so amazing watching the support that your family gave. That was so touching and I’m sure that was amazing. How has life changed for you and your family since winning the gold medals?
GABBY: Wow. Life has changed so much for us and we’re just so blessed and so honored. I’m really honored that they could be a part of this journey too and life is just different. It changed so fast. Everyone - and the world was like who is Gabby Douglas and then I won the Olympics and it was like an overnight celebrity thing. It was just like who was Gabby Douglas to wow, everyone knowing who Gabby Douglas is so it’s like wow. I never thought it’d happen so fast.
QUESTION: I feel like they believed so much in you and was it ever I told you so coming from them afterwards?
GABBY: Yes. Not I told you so but they believed in me and even when I didn’t believe in me they believed in me and I had to really believe in myself and believe that I could do it. But at the end yes, they were kind of like see, we told you. You have to believe in yourself and yes, it was great, just having people around you that believe in yourself when you don’t and they inspired me to believe in myself.
QUESTION: I thought one great impression of you is watching the montage while the Hall of Fame is going on. It’s so empowering just seeing all the work you’re going through really quickly. If you could choose any song to be the soundtrack of your life at any moment of your life what song would you pick?
GABBY: Sitting In The Hall Of Fame is a good one and I’d pick Girl on Fire.
QUESTION: I just want to know what are some challenges that you face in your life that aren’t depicted in film?
GABBY: Some of the challenges with me when I was growing up, at one point my family and I were homeless. I had to move away at 14 years old to go to Iowa to train with a very special coach I saw on TV and injuries, just competing on injuries or training on injuries.
QUESTION: And you made this comment earlier but you’ve accomplished so much already at such a young age. What are some of your goals moving forward?
GABBY: Some of my goals are just to keep competing and just still being in the world of gymnastics, keep training. And one of my main goals this year is to compete this year and yes, that’s one of my main goals. I just want to be back out there and back at it again.
QUESTION: And you said you were training for 2016 Olympics. What would say is the most important thing that you’ve learned from the last Olympics that you’re kind of taking with you?
GABBY: I’ve learned just to keep going even though when the days are really hard in the gym. I still have to take that in. When I’m having a really hard day I have to learn how to keep pushing through because if I can get through that one day -- that hard day -- then on the easiest day it’d be so easy so I have to keep reminding myself to just keep pushing through.
QUESTION: So what would you say has been the most rewarding experience that you kind of - that’s happened to you since the Olympics?
GABBY: It’s so hard to pick a favorite because all the opportunities that I’ve done or experienced, it’s just been so fun for me. It’s been a blast and I’m super excited about being a correspondent for Inside Edition. I’m very excited about that.
QUESTION: When you get a chance to meet some of the young girls that want to be gymnasts and want to go to the Olympics what are the main things they ask you?
GABBY: Some ask me do have any advice on the backhand spring or some say you’ve inspired me. Some moms would say you inspired my daughter to keep going.
QUESTION: I was just curious about your medals. I imagine that everywhere you go people want to see them and I just to know where you keep them and do you take them out at parties to show everybody?
GABBY: No, I don’t take them to parties because they’re kind of heavy and if I wear both of them they kind of like cling together and once in a while I’ll take them out and look at them and be like wow but I just kind of leave them in the boxes because I just don’t want them - the ribbon to fray or if I drop it I don’t want it to break but I do look at them every once in a while.
QUESTION: And then also someone had asked you a little bit about your training but is there one root team or something that you’re working on more than the others or anything training for 2016 or have you got that far ahead yet?
GABBY: No. I’m working on all four events like normal.
QUESTION: I know that Lifetime is launching a contest inviting schools to take part in the Gabby Douglas Raise the Bar Pledge. And I think it’s a great initiative and I just wanted to know how did it become about? Was it something that you thought of that you thought would be great?
GABBY: Well first of all the title Raising the Bar is very powerful because in life you want to raise the bar and it pertains to life in general. And we thought it’d be a great idea people could also raise the bar in their life so I think that’s how the pledge came about.
QUESTION: So obviously you’re wearing costumes when you’re competing in the Olympics or other things but I wanted to know a little bit more about your personal fashion style. What do you wear when you’re not in the gym working out or you’re out there winning gold medals? What do you like to jump into? What’s your favorite style?
GABBY: I’m really getting into crop top shirts with a skirt or long skirts with a short sleeve top or I do tank tops or long sleeve shirts with jeans or combat boots.
QUESTION: Do you have a favorite brand that you usually turn to?
GABBY: I love BCBG or BeBe’s.
QUESTION: What about starting the Gabby Douglas brand of clothing for say, K-mart of Target or something like that? Has it ever crossed your mind?
GABBY: That is a great idea and yes, I just ponder on those things like what if I can have a fashion line or some other line. Yes those thoughts have definitely crossed my mind.
QUESTION: I’m wondering about Imani playing you on screen. Did you get a chance to talk to her and tell her about your personality so she could really capture you? Did you share any pet peeves or some of your stranger habits?
GABBY: I did. We texted and talked on the phone. She was asking questions like how do youwant me to really capture you in the movie. I just gave her some pointers, a couple tips. So we chatted back and forth.
QUESTION: Did you share that with her about your own personality?
GABBY: Yes and she watched interviews that I’ve done and see how I would act and I was very bubbly but I also told her I’m kind of serious - when I was in the elite world I took myself seriously but when I was older I started to realize just have fun and enjoy, enjoy the competition.
QUESTION: And speaking of the competition, going back 2016 do you feel any pressure to defend your title or how are you going into it? What’s your mindset?
GABBY: My mindset is I’m not Gabby Douglas. I’m not the 2012 - I’m not a big champion in my mind. I’m just going to think I’m another girl vying on that spot for 2016 and I’m just another girl competing for USA and hopefully I’ll do the best that I can. But I’m just going into it with that mindset, just being humble and grounded.
QUESTION: Since we brought up proms and things like that, do you have a celebrity crush that maybe you can meet while you’re working as a correspondent?
GABBY: That’s a good question. Well I don’t know if you all know but my sort of crush is Ian Somerhalder but I sort of like Dave Franco.
QUESTION: I know that you went through a lot of trials both personally and as an athlete and it can be easy to kind of doubt God’s plan during those times. And a lot of teams, even if they’re not in athletics, have a lot of doubts about where their life is headed. So what would you say to someone who is doubting God’s plan for their life?
GABBY: I’d say don’t doubt and trust. I had to stop with the what-ifs. I’m like what if I don’t make it? What if - I had to stop with that and just believe. If you just trust and believe then everything’s going to be okay. If we doubt and if we fear it’s going to happen because on the beam and - so I’m on the beam and I’m thinking my gosh, what if I fall? I’m going to fall. Then I’m going to fall because I’m thinking it. I would tell those teams just don’t doubt and just believe.
QUESTION: Has anyone ever made fun of you for your belief in God or for praying or anything?
GABBY: Not that I’ve really come across. A lot of people have been really coming up to me and thank you for saying all the stuff that you did about your faith and if someone’s going through that then I’d tell them pay no mind to that person who’s making fun of you. Keep to your own residual and whatever works for you just keep doing it and who knows? Maybe down the road if that team is praying they can inspire other teams to pray or say motivational things to help them.
QUESTION: When you were talking earlier about some of the challenges that you had to face I’m curious. When you decided to leave your home at 14 and moved to Iowa to train, what went into this decision and how did it affect you then mentally moving forward? When you were away from them and training did that give you motivation to keep moving forward or did you feel like this pressure that you’re the golden child from your family and if you fail you’re going to think you’re a failure?
GABBY: No, moving to Iowa was my decision and I was so ready to go because I was like I’m ready for a new chapter. I’m really excited. I get to train with this coach that I’ve been wanting to train with and I was so ecstatic about moving and about the new journey. But then when I got there I realized, I was like my goodness, what did I do? My family’s not here. My siblings aren’t here and I was really sad and I just had to come to my senses that it was my choice because I wanted to quit and I remember just crying and crying every single day for a couple months. And I said to myself I have to suck it up because I made this decision and if I want to go to the Olympics I’m going to have to push it. If I want my dream to become my reality I’m really going to have to go 100% in the gym. I didn’t think about failing or falling or what if I family thinks I’m a failure. My family is supportive all the way. If I’d mess up they would comfort me and still be loving and supporting. And in gymnastics you can’t really think about the negative side. You always have to think what came out of it, the positive note.
QUESTION: And then I understand at that time you lived with a host family. How did that come about and did they share your same beliefs? Did that make it easier and then what’s your relationship like with that host family today?
GABBY: We still talk and we’re very close. And they actually reached out to us, not knowing but -wait I’m sorry. They reached out to (Chao) and (Chao) reached out to us saying there’s a host family. They often open up a home so we went with them and it was such a blessing that they opened up their home that I could stay there. And they’re believers too so it did make it easier because I could just pull out my Bible or we went to church on Sundays. I had so much fun with that family and with the girls. I’m so glad that they could be a part of the journey.
QUESTION: You have so many great fans on Twitter and social media sites. Why is it such an important place for you to connect with your fans?
GABBY: I think it’s so important for me to connect with my fans to tell them or share with them some advice or just to keep them in the loop. Like if they’re okay, what’s Gabby doing? I love to chat with them on social media or if they’re through something in their life I can help them.
QUESTION: What is it that you’d like to say to everyone who has become such a big fan and supporter of you and your work?
GABBY: Everyone who has been a fan, I’d have to say thank you guys so much. It’s definitely been an amazing journey and I have to thank my fans for the support and for the loving and caring and always being there and them being true to themselves. I’m so glad to have this platform to tell them that you can achieve anything that you in life that you want to achieve. I just tell them just to believe in themselves.
Thank you to Gabby and be sure to check out The Gabby Douglas Story tonight on Lifetime!
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