The Gabby Douglas Story

With the 2014 Winter Olympics set to begin next month, Lifetime will remind viewers of the 2012 Summer Games with its original movie The Gabby Douglas Story.

The film stars Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris) as the Olympic goldmedal gymnast Gabby Douglas. The youngest of four kids raised by single mom Natal ie Hawkins, played by Regina King (Southland), Douglas is shown early to have the skills to be a world-class athlete. Spurred on and supported by her family, she starts to win local competition titles by the age of 8 (the younger version of Gabby is played by Sydney Mikayla). But financial hardships and an illness suffered by her mom threaten to derail Douglas’s dreams of attaining world-class status.

The film chronicles Douglas’s respectful stubbornness with her mother as she pursues her gymnastics career despite the obstacles, as well as the frustrations she experiences with her local coach, who didn’t always encourage Douglas to be her best. A meeting with renowned gymnastics coach Liang Chow provides Douglas with a chance to take her training to the next level and the possibility of qualifying for the Olympics. But it would mean leaving her mother and siblings in Virginia Beach for two years to train with Liang in Iowa.

Faced with the prospect of missing her family and the enormous weight of being a gymnastics prodigy, Douglas considers giving it all up to return to a “normal” life of a teenager.

Lifetime effectively weaves in coverage of Douglas’s real-life competitive performances throughout the film. The outcome of the movie has already been determined, of course, as Douglas would go on to win several Olympic gold medals at the 2012 Games in London. But the storylines leading up to that triumph, as well as strong performances from King, Hakim and S. Epatha Merkerson (in a cameo role as Gabby’s grandmother), make The Gabby Douglas Story a warm and inspiring film that can be enjoyed by Lifetime’s core female viewers as well as sports-obsessed male viewers.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.