Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Gabby Douglas, the first black gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around Champion and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics, is getting a TV biopic. Lifetime has greenlighted The Gabby Douglas Story (working title), an original movie starring Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris) and Sydney Mikayla as the two-time Olympic gold medalist, Southland alumna Regina King as her mother and S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) as her grandmother. Mikayla will portray Douglas during her childhood while Hakim will play her as a teenager and young adult. Douglas also will appear in the film, produced by Sony Pictures TV.

A child prodigy, Douglas was doing one-armed cartwheels around the house at age 4, taught by her older sister Arielle. She began formal gymnastics training at 6 and two years later made a big entry into the world of competitive gymnastics. She won numerous state championship titles but eventually reached her peak at her local gym while her family faced economic challenges at home. A difficult decision was made for Gabby to leave her mother Natalie (King), three siblings and grandmother (Merkerson)  in Virginia Beach at age 14 and move to Des Moines, Iowa, to train with renowned coach Liang Chow (Brian Tee) to pursue her dream of Olympic glory. The move paid off, and Gabby at 16 made it onto the 2012 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team — known as “The Fierce Five” — winning Team Competition and Individual All-round gold medals. She recently returned to the gym, training on her own in Los Angeles with the goal of competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Zev Braun and Philip Krupp (Lifetime’s A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story) will serve as executive producers on The Gabby Douglas Story, with David Rosemont (Lifetime’s Bonnie & Clyde) producing. Gregg Champion (Lifetime’s Amish Grace) will direct from a script written by Maria Nation (Lifetime’s The Two Mr. Kissels). Merkerson is repped by ICM Partners and managed by Bob McGowan; King is with ICM and John Carrabino.

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