All Articles Tagged "Gabby Douglas"

The Rise And Dominance Of Black Gymnasts

August 25th, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Photos: WENN and SimoneBiles.com

Photos: WENN and SimoneBiles.com

Awesome Dawesome is what they called her – better known as gymnast and “Magnificent Seven” Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes.  A hometown hero and one of my favorite athletes, I remember recording her competitions on VHS when I was a kid. I prayed to the gymnastics gods to make me just as fast, talented and fierce as she was.  We had an awful lot in common, after all.  I figured all I needed to do was learn the sport real quick, but I was a little too old when I finally enrolled in a class at the very gym where Dawes used to train.  And classes weren’t exactly cheap, so thus ended my athletic career before it even began.

At that time in the early to mid-‘90s, Dominique Dawes was the only prominent Black gymnast on the scene.  To watch her perform was a thing of beauty.  No one moved like she did, especially on the floor exercises.  I’m sure Dawes didn’t realize the impact she would have on other girls (and boys) of color who dreamed of tumbling and twisting at seemingly impossible heights, just like she did.  But her presence and dominance in a sport that is still primarily White helped pave the way for numerous athletes of color.  And with a slew of firsts under her belt – she was one of the first African-American female gymnasts to compete and qualify for an Olympic games in 1992, and the first to win an individual medal when she took home the bronze at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta for her floor routine – she showed that there was still lots of ground to cover.

Since Dawes, we’ve seen gymnasts like Lloimincia Hall, a recent Louisiana State University graduate who competed in the NCAA.  The first time I saw Hall perform at a televised competition I asked myself, “Who is this girl?”  Standing at just 4 feet and 11 inches, Hall is not only a powerhouse, but equal parts gymnast and cheerleader.  To say she gets the crowd revved up during her performances would be an understatement.  Her musical choices are far different and more lively than any other gymnast’s, and the energy she brings to the floor is contagious.  A four-time All-American and three-time reigning SEC Floor Exercise Champion, Hall holds the LSU record for most career perfect 10.0 scores on the floor.

If you don’t know Hall, here’s a gymnast who has become a household name: Gabby Douglas.  She’s competed in U.S. and world championships for quite some time, but for many of us, Douglas first came to our attention at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  Qualifying for the Olympic trials, Douglas landed the only secure spot on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team after placing first in all-around rankings.  Douglas was the first African-American since Dominque Dawes to make the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team.  And in yet another first, Douglas was the first African-American gymnast (or woman of color, period) in the history of the Olympic games to win gold in the individual all-around.  And, of course, Douglas also took home a gold medal alongside her U.S. teammates.  With her success and popularity came a Lifetime television movie, The Gabby Douglas Story.  The gymnast also graced countless magazine covers, including Time, Sports Illustrated and Essence.  She even found time to release a book: Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith.

The American public ate Gabby up, and rightfully so.  This girl was on fire.  But for all the positivity and light that was shone on Douglas’ obvious talents, the gymnast also shared her less than positive experiences while training.  She made known the racism and bullying she faced by fellow gymnasts at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach, a claim that the gym vehemently denied.  And who can forget the criticism Douglas received over her supposedly unkempt hair?  We all know the significance and representation of hair in the Black community. But this, in the midst of her meteoric, history-making rise, never should have been an issue on the social media or national news front.  But like the champ she is, Douglas silenced her critics by telling them they needn’t be concerned about the state of her hair, ‘cause she sure wasn’t.  Needless to say, racism, hair – these aren’t issues that non-Black gymnasts have to contend with, which shows there’s still plenty ground to be broken and lessons to be learned.

Last week, all of my fond childhood memories of watching Dominique Dawes came rushing back when I saw Simone Biles compete at the World Gymnastics Championships.  This was the first I had ever seen or heard of her, but she has won the title three times now. After earning a near-perfect score for one of the most difficult vaults that women’s gymnasts perform, it’s easy to see why.  I expect to see both Biles and Douglas at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.  If they qualify for the team, and I have no doubt that they will, it’ll be the first time that two African Americans are on a U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the same time.

Dawes, Hall, Douglas, Biles – these gymnasts don’t know whose lives they’ll touch or who they’ll inspire.  Their presence and sportsmanship means more than they’ll ever know and opens doors for more minority representation in the sport of gymnastics.  I thank them for their leadership.

Gabby Douglas And Zendaya Coleman Graduate From The Same High School

June 12th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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It’s graduation season, and two of our favorite teens are officially high school graduates. Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas, 19,  and actress Zendaya Coleman, 18, received their diplomas from Oak Park High School Thursday.

Shortly after the ceremony, where according to TMZ actor Bob Newhart was the commencement speaker, Douglas rushed to catch a flight.

“Not gonna lie. It was tough to balance school and gym.. but i did it!” she exclaimed on Instagram, “kno when u set ur mind to achieve something u can do it. anddddd yes I’m at the airport gotta get right back to the grind love u guys.”

Coleman also took to the photo sharing site with a celebratory/inspirational message, writing:

“Shout out, not just to all the 2015 grads but to the soon to be! Please remember knowledge is one of the most powerful gifts we have the privilege of receiving…don’t take that for granted. To every soon to be grad, know that you CAN do it! (if I can get through it then anyone can) It’s a long road, so many things will pose as obstacles in your way and at times the end seems further and further away, but please remember the importance of that beautiful mind you have and all the limitless powers you hold. All my love #sorryforgettingdeep.”

According to E! Online, both starlets attended the Oak Park Independent School, where they were provided with flexible schedules to accommodate their work itineraries.

Congrats to these beauties!

Gabby Douglas & Family Snag New Oxygen Reality Show

April 2nd, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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WENN

WENN

Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas is heading to a small screen near you. According to The Associated Press, the 19-year-old and her family are set to star in a new series titled “Douglas Family Gold.”

The Oxygen program will be co-produced by Gabby and her mom Natalie Hawkins and will document her journey as she sets out to defend her title at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “Douglas Family Gold” was one of 8 new series to be announced by the network this week.

“The bi-coastal Douglas family shuttles between California and Ohio to support Gabby’s training regimen while also juggling their own lives,” Oxygen explained in a press release.

Gabby’s brother, John, who will appear on the series, also hopes to compete in the Olympics in track and field. The gymnast’s two sisters Arie and Joy and her momager have also been tapped to star in the family show.

Two summers ago at the Espys, Gabby played with the idea of starring in a reality show during an interview with Cambio. However, at the time, she seemed more open to competitive shows like “Dancing with the Stars and “Survivor.”

Will you be tuning in?

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise

How Far Are You Willing to Go For Your Child’s Dream?

February 17th, 2014 - By Rich
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As I watched The Gabby Douglas Story on Lifetime a few weeks ago, I was in awe of the sacrifices her family made for her to pursue her dreams of becoming an Olympian. There’s a scene where Imani Hakim as Gabby is trying to convince her mother Natalie (played by Regina King) that she needs to move to Iowa to train with Olympic coach, Liang Chow. Gabby is passionate and confident in the fact that the only way she can become a better athlete is to move and train with Chow.  When her mother replies with, “No way.  It’s not gonna happen,” Gabby’s determination even becomes somewhat disrespectful.

Luckily, Gabby gets a break and is able to begin chasing the Olympic gold in West Des Moines with Chow by her side.  In their case, it paid off big but it required her family to put a lot on the line both personally and financially. Had it not been for a host family’s intervention, America may have never known who Gabrielle Douglas aka “The Flying Squirrel” was.

Regina King’s character reacted how many mothers, including mine, would have if their 14-year-old daughter told them they needed to move half way across the country to pursue their dreams. Even with Gabby displaying such amazing talent, her mother was still skeptical of uprooting the whole family, including siblings who had already sacrificed so much to support Gabby’s dream. It brings up a difficult dilemma for any parent:  how much are you willing to sacrifice to support your child’s dream?

Would you quit your job to manage your child’s career?  Would you move your family across the country? It really depends on how much you believe in your child’s dream.  Jonnetta Patton did.  After directing her son in the church choir in their hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee she quit her full-time job to be his manager. She moved the family to Atlanta where he competed in talent shows, and eventually was signed with LaFace records to record his debut album, “Usher”.  Jonnetta received some backlash after fans learned she allowed her adolescent son to live with producer Sean “Diddy” Combs.  Usher has even admitted he was forced to mature fast after witnessing the adult activities taking place in Diddy’s home who at the time was in the prime of his career.  Although he’s had his share of struggles in his personal life that may or may not be a result of achieving fame at such a young age, today Usher is a platinum-selling, Grammy award-winning superstar.

Jonnetta is not the first parent to quit a job or move across the country with the hopes that her child would be a star. Children change their mind about their passion as often as they do their favorite food.   When I was in middle school I went from ballet to piano lessons to art in a matter of months.  As a parent, you have to be the voice of reason in helping your child explore their interests and actually commit to something they think they have a future in.

You also have to be honest about whether your child is pursuing their dream or yours.  So many parents have their children chasing dreams they didn’t get to fulfill in their own youth.  The child becomes so concerned with making them proud that they don’t even realize they have zero passion for what they’re pursuing.  What also happens is that parents sacrifice and invest so much, and when the child decides they don’t want to dance, sing or act anymore, the parents force them to continue because they’ve already put so much on the line.  You have to be honest with yourself about how much you can afford or are willing to invest and if the dream is worth it.  If your child has siblings, their dreams aren’t only affecting their life path, but that of the whole family.  For every budding Beyonce there’s a Solange who probably lost out on a lot of attention at times and that can be difficult for a sibling.

Not long before Gabby was winning gold medals and landing million-dollar endorsements, her mother filed for bankruptcy.  Her $80,000 debt included a mortgage on the family’s Virginia’s townhouse as well as expenses for Gabby’s training.  Plagued with medical problems, Natalie filed for long-term disability in 2009 and there were at least six months when the family had little to no income.  Although the family is financially set now, Natalie says that what’s even more rewarding than the money was seeing Gabby reach her goals.  In a Huffington Post article she reveals, “Letting go of Gabrielle was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life but it’s now one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever gotten to experience … there’s no greater joy than for a parent to see their child reach their dream.”

What sacrifices have you made to support your child’s dream?

Toya Sharee is a program associate for a Philadelphia non-profit that focuses on parenting education and building healthy relationships between parents, children and co-parents. She also has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog BulletsandBlessings.

Watch The Trailer Now: The Gabby Douglas Story

January 28th, 2014 - By Kweli Wright
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Want to know the inspiring story behind Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas? You’ll get the chance to see her rise against overwhelming odds as she gets the biopic treatment this weekend with the premiere of The Gabby Douglas Story on Lifetime. The gymnastics phenomenon won our hearts by winning two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, and became the first African American ever to be named Individual All-Around Champion in Artistic Gymnastics at an Olympic Games.

Sydney Mikayla (Whitney) portrays Douglas during her childhood and Imani Hakim (Love Reign Over Me) portrays her teenaged and young adult years. The real-life Gabby Douglas appears in the film, which also stars actress Regina King (Southland, Ray) and S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order).

Gabby’s an inspiration to kids and us all!

Don’t forget to watch The Gabby Douglas Story on Saturday, February 1st at 8PM ET/PT only on Lifetime Television.

ICYMI: Check Out “The Gabby Douglas Story” Trailer

January 28th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com

Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com

If you spent part or a majority of your weekend watching Lifetime movies then you’ve probably seen the trailer the network released for their upcoming weekend movie,  “The Gabby Douglas Story.” But, if you a.) don’t have cable, b.) don’t watch Lifetime because it sucks you in and steals your Saturday or c.) your tv was stolen like mine was, (another story for another day), then you might have missed the trailer. And  you don’t deserve that, so we’re making sure you get a chance to watch it here.

We’ve known this movie was coming to the small screen since the fall, and have kept you updated with casting news. But in case you need a refresher, Regina King will be playing Gabby’s mother, S. Epatha Merkerson will play her grandmother and Imani Hakim, (Tonya from “Everybody Hates Chris”) will play the role of the teenage Douglas. And apparently, judging from the trailer Douglas herself will make an appearance.

This is already pulling at my heartstrings. So excited.

Check out the trailer in the video below.

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“The Gabby Douglas Story” will air on Lifetime, Saturday, February 1 at 8/7c.

Lifetime To Kick Off Black History Month With ‘The Gabby Douglas Story’

January 8th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Gabby Douglas

Source: WENN

Over the summer we told you that a movie about the life of Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas was in the works. Since our initial report, there have been many new wonderful revelations, including the fact that women’s television network Lifetime has agreed to pick up the biopic.

In case you missed it, “Everybody Hates Chris” star Imani Hakim has been cast to play Douglas in the film. The film’s cast also includes Regina King, Epatha Merkerson, and Sidney Mikayla. As previously reported, “The Gabby Douglas Story” will share the inspiring tale of the teen Olympian’s journey to becoming the first African American to be named individual All-Around Champion in the Olympics.

“‘The Gabby Douglas Story’ tells the inspiring true story of the international gymnastics phenomenon who overcame overwhelming odds to become the first African-American ever to be named Individual All-Around Champion in artistic gymnastics at the Olympic Games,” reads the film’s press release.

Lifetime will be kicking off Black History Month by airing “The Gabby Douglas Story” on Feb. 1. According to Shadow and Act, the network will also be airing the television adaptation of “A Trip to Bountiful” on Feb. 22. We’ll definitely be tuning in. Will you?

 

Guess Who’s Playing The Lead In The Gabby Douglas Biopic?

December 30th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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gabby douglas biopic

This past fall, we told you that Lifetime had approved the making of the Gabby Douglas biopic. As much as the nation, and particularly black women love Gabby Douglas, it’s important that the casting for this film be perfect. And from the looks of things, Lifetime might be on the right track.

Imani Hakim, best known for her role as Tonya Rock in the series “Everybody Hates Chris” will play the part of a the teenage Douglas in “The Gabby Douglas Story” (a working title). As you might assume, the movie will tell the inspiring story of Douglas overcoming obstacles to become the first African American to be named individual All-round Champion in artistic gymnastics at the Olympics.

Sydney Mikayla (“Little in Common” and “Beautiful Soul”) will play Douglas as a young girl and rounding out the cast will be Regina King as Douglas’ mother and S. Epatha Merkerson as her grandmother.

“The Gabby Douglas Story” is set to air on Lifetime in February 2014.

With names like this attached to this project, I’m sure this movie will be one to watch. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as details surface.

Will you tune in?

Happy, Black Girl News: Lifetime Says Yes To Gabby Douglas Biopic

September 16th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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FayesVision/WENN.com

FayesVision/WENN.com

 

It’s a go! Lifetime, who has debuted more original movies of black people recently than black television networks will be  releasing a biopic of two-time Olympic gold medalist winner, Gabby Douglas.

The movie will unfold the life of Gabby as a child , where she began to formally train as a gymnast at the age of 6 years old. Actress Sydney Mikayla will be Douglass as a child and Imani Hakim will act as teenage Gabby who eventually becomes a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team during the 2012 Summer Olympics. It was during the Summer Olympics, Gabby won both gold medals in the individual and team competitions.

Regina King is set to star in the biopic as Gabby’s mother and S. Epatha Merkerson will act as her grandmother, as well.

The film will be produced by Sony Pictures TV and its director will be Gregg Champion who directed Lifetime’s “Amish Grace”. No date has been mentioned for the  film release  but fans should expect to view it in 2014.

Are you excited to learn more about the Olympic winner ?

A Gabrielle Douglas Movie? Yes Please! New TV Movie In The Works

August 16th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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gabrielle douglas movie

Source: WENN

 

Looks like the Gabrielle Douglas movie  is coming to a television screen near you. Many of us watched in a combination of glee and pride as Gabby tumbled her way into the history books becoming the first African American gymnast to win an individual all-around Olympic gold medal. And now, according to The YBF, producers are bringing her inspiring story to the screen as a tv movie.

You may remember that Gabby’s life has not always been easy. Being raised by a single mother, Gabby chose to live with a new family in order to continue her training. It all paid off as the then 16 year old was catapulted into stardom, complete with cereal box covers, a book she authored, numerous media appearances and now a tv movie.

The movie, tentatively called “The Gabby Douglas Story” is set to start shooting September 9 through October in Winnipeg, Canada. It will be produced by Zev Braun, Phillip Krupp, David Rosemont. Gregg Champion will direct and Tracy Twinkie Byrd, the woman who cast films like Stomp The Yard, Notorious, Jumping The Broom, Sparkle and Fruitvale Station will serve as the project’s casting director.

Sounds promising! Who should play the role of Gabrielle?