Gabrielle Douglas at the 2013 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, July 17, 2013
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for ESPY

Gabby Douglas is still on fire.

She's been a household name—a brand, even—ever since her historic 2012 Olympic double-gold win launched her into the sports Hall of Fame. She's been featured in ads and slapped on cereal boxes and has even written books—and now the upbeat 18-year-old is getting her very own biopic.


Tonight, cable's Lifetime will bring The Gabby Douglas Story to life. The movie will detail the star athlete's journey to becoming one of the best female gymnasts in the world, which includes being crowned the first woman of color and the first African American in Olympic history to receive the gold in the individual all-around event.

"You actually get to see the challenges and the struggles and my life story … so I was like, absolutely," Douglas said during a press call Monday about when she was first approached for the movie. "It sounded like a very amazing opportunity, so my family and I said yes."

The moving docudrama, a little over an hour long, shows how Douglas' mother, Natalie Hawkins, raised four children single-handedly, all while taking her family out of homelessness. For almost a year, the Douglas family lived out of the back of a van. The movie focuses not only on the struggles but also on the triumphs and sacrifices made to foster the young Douglas' amazing talent—and how heartbreaking the separation was for the whole family when she moved to Iowa to train under star coach Liang Chow.

At one point we see an injured, frustrated athlete ready to throw in the towel. "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 … I was at my lowest point and I was homesick, and things in the gym were getting really hard for me … I wanted to quit and work at Chick-fil-A or do another sport," Douglas half joked as she professed her love for the fast-food chain's sandwiches. "But it was my foundation that kept me on track and saying, 'Hey, please don't give up.'"


The tight-knit family—headed by Douglas' equally determined mother—was very involved in the production.

"They would send us the script [and ask] what do you think, or they'd send us who was portraying us … and we went on the set, and I'd give my input about how this move would be done or how this competition would be," Douglas said.


Although Douglas does appear briefly in the beginning of the movie, actresses Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris) and Sydney Mikayla (Whitney) share the role as the older and younger Douglas, respectively.

"As actors and as athletes, I thought they did an amazing job. Sydney … who played the younger Gabby Douglas … She was flipping everywhere, tumbling. She was so bubbly and energetic, and I was definitely like that when I was very young," the gymnast said. "And also Imani, she played a very [good] version of me when I was older."


Regina King, who plays Douglas' mom, dazzled the athlete with how well she captured her mother's essence.

"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,' '' Douglas said. "She did a fantastic job portraying my mom, and she was definitely on point."


Although she has accomplished more in her 18 years than most people will in their entire life span, Douglas remains humble, grounded and focused. She encourages her fans and anyone who might see the movie to take heart and continue believing in themselves.

"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," she added.


Where Douglas' journey will eventually lead is anyone's guess. She fiddles with the idea of acting, launching her own fashion line, performing on Dancing With the Stars and other big dreams—all of which are more than possible through the opportunities won by her hard work.

She'll even dabble in sportscasting at this year's Super Bowl.

"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," the Patriots fan said. "I'm just a little sad that my team didn't make it, but it's all good; maybe next year.


"But I'm going to be … on the field, and I'm going to have such a fun time," she added. "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."

But her short-term goal is much more focused. She has her eyes set once more on one of the world's greatest athletic competitions.


"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," she said, referring to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Wherever her path ultimately leads her, however, she'll definitely have the support of her numerous fans—the little girls and even the older folk—who look up to her as the embodiment of what can happen when you want something badly enough and you work hard enough for it.


"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," Douglas said. "I'm so glad to have this platform to tell them that you can achieve anything … I just tell them just to believe in themselves."

The Gabby Douglas Story airs Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. CST on Lifetime.


Breanna Edwards is a newswriter at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.