Whitney actress Sydney Mikayla has been cast to play the young Gabby Douglas in an upcoming Lifetime Original Movie: The Gabby Douglas Story which will premier February 1st to kick off Black History Month. The story will depict the real life account of Gabby’s sacrifice to leave home and family and train in Iowa to realize her dream of Olympic gold. Sydney recently chatted with Celebrity Teen Scoop to discuss what it was like to play one of the world’s greatest gymnasts.
CTS: You are set to star as Olympic phenomenon Gabby Douglas in her childhood in the Lifetime Original Movie, The Gabby Douglas Story. Tell us about the movie and your role. How were you cast for the part?
SM:This movie is basically about Gabby’s life and tells her story. It shows where she came from and all she went through to get to the Olympics. I play the young version of Gabby. I’m really excited about it because she’s a lot like me in a way. It was definitely fun being in the gym and really seeing how she became an Olympian.
When I first auditioned I went in and saw the casting director. Before I went into the room I saw her holding up 2 pictures of other girls who I think they were seeing for the part. I thought she was saying how good they were and that they were probably in the running to get it, so of course I was really nervous. After my first audition I felt good, but I thought I could do better. So I was really glad I got a callback. At the callback they surprised me and gave me some lines that I had never even gone over before, so I was super, super nervous. When I went in to read the director said I did a great job. They were surprised that I had just gotten some of the lines a few minutes before. When I came out of the audition my mom and I were just jumping up and down because even if I didn’t get the part I was just so excited that they said good things about me and I felt great about my audition. But I did get it in the end, so I was really happy.
CTS: Did you have to train in gymnastics to play the part?
SM: I did some basic gymnastics training for the part which is why I went to Canada a couple of weeks early before we actually started shooting. It was fun seeing through the eyes of a real gymnast. I got to see some of the other gymnasts train and everyone there was so nice. I met a lot of gymnasts and I got to see how hard they have to work.
CTS: The real-life Gabby Douglas also appears in the film. Tell us what it was like to work with her? Was she able to help you with your role?
SM: Working with the real Gabby was an amazing experience. She is so humble and we had fun talking and hiding from the teacher on set once when it was time for school. She told me a lot about her life. I wanted to know more than just about the Olympics because I think that’s what everybody asks. She was really easy to talk to. I asked her about her childhood so that helped me with my role. I knew a little more about what she was feeling.
CTS: What did you learn about what life is like for an Olympic gymnast?
I learned that it is a lot of work! Gabby went through a lot. I had to put on my “game face” and sometimes that was hard. For example in the floor routine, that was a challenge for me. I learn routines as a dancer, but I wasn’t really use to that, moving all across that big floor. So I definitely learned that being an Olympic gymnast means many hours of training.
CTS: How did you get your start in acting?
SM: Well I started acting when I was about 3. My mom acts and she inspired me to want to become an actress, too. She coaches me and that’s nice to always have a coach with me.
CTS: Which actors and actresses would you like to work with someday?
SM: I loved playing Regina King’s daughter in this movie and awhile back I had an opportunity to do a pilot with Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union which was pretty awesome. But in the future would like to work with Anna Sophia Robb because she pushed me to want to have bigger roles in movies. I think she was about 10 when she did Winn Dixie and her acting inspired me so much.
CTS: What do you like doing in your free time, any fun hobbies?
SM: I love to dance. I started when I was young, but I stopped, so I’ve just gotten back into it in the last few months. Ballet probably isn’t my favorite, I prefer jazz and hip hop. I’m also learning to play the violin and I love to read.
CTS: What’s up next for you?
SM: Well of course I want to keep acting. I would love to do more movies or a television series. I’ve also started writing songs because I love to sing. Sometimes I just have a jam session all by myself. I admire artists who write their own songs and I want to do that, too. So I think the sky’s the limit.