(SL) – Gabby Douglas took the world by storm 4 years ago when she became the first African-American to win the Individual All-Around Gold, at the 2012 London Summer Olympics. And now she will become the first American gymnast to defend her title and you get to watch!
Gabrielle along with her momager Natalie Hawkins and her siblings are set to take you behind the scenes and along for what is sure to be one fascinating journey as she prepares for Rio 2016.
Douglas Family Gold which gives viewers and fans an inside look of the youngest child of Natalie Hawkins’ and her tight-knit family as they help Gabby prepare for the Summer Olympics.
If you’ve followed Gabby’s career , you know it’s been one of sacrifice, trials and triumph. From a time when Natalie went years without a new pair shoes, pawned jewelry and according to one report even filed bankruptcy due to her willingness to make sure her children had what they needed to now overseeing her Olympian status daughter and her many endorsements, the Douglas family knows what life is like on both ends of the spectrum and audiences everywhere will certainly be inspired by this family and their chase for Olympic gold…a second time around.
Gabby and Her Mom Natalie took time out of their busy schedules to talk about the show, their lives both personal and professional during a conference call where media outlets like NBC Olympics, Huffington Post, Rolling Out, Ebony.com and SytonniaLIVE were on hand for a Q and A that lasted about an hour. I’ve pulled the pieces readers are most interested in from the transcript and listed them below. Hope you enjoy this interview and make sure you tune in tonight to Oxygen at 10 p.m. ET for the Season Premiere ‘The First Hurdle’ which will show Gabby attempting to make the national team!
Q: Why the quest for the back-to-back
Gabrielle Douglas: Why the quest for back-to-back to gold? For me I – I’m a person who
loves a challenge and I felt like after 2012, you know, even though I won two
gold medals there was still like more that I wanted to do. So I didn’t want to retire because I was like young and I still, you know, loved
gymnastics and I still do so I was like, “Why not give it another shot?” And I
think that I was always like determined to go to 2016 to go to another
Olympics. That’s why I’m doing it.
Q: Whose idea was it originally to do this show and did it – did you
take any convincing to agree to it?
Gabrielle Douglas:Yes I did. It was actually my oldest sister Arielle Hawkins. She actually
was the one that, you know, pitched the idea and we were all – well like not
me but, you know, my mom, my brother, my other sister – they were all like,
“Yes I think it would be cool.”
But I was the one who was a little bit hesitant because, you know, my main
focus was Rio and, you know, obviously it still is. So I didn’t want, you know,
the cameras in the gym distracting me while I was training and for the most
part they, you know, everyone at Oxygen was very respectful and they were
like, “Hey we don’t want to, you know, get your mind off Rio either.”
So we all like came together and, you know, figured out a plan and it worked
out and, you know, then I agreed and yes.
Natalie Hawkins:Actually I want to hop in real quick. I actually didn’t agree with it remember?
Gabrielle Douglas: Oh yes that’s right. I was like thinking about it. I was like, “Wait did she not agree either?” Okay we both didn’t. All right.
Natalie Hawkins: Okay. Thank you.
Q: How has your life changed since you became famous?
Gabrielle Douglas: Oh geez. My life has definitely changed so much, you know,
obviously from going from, you know, people not recognizing me to, you
know, being a household name and just all the opportunities that I have, you
And I think the – one of the biggest changes for me is, you know, balancing,
you know, kind of being a professional athlete and, you know, training at the
same time, you know, balancing, you know, fulfilling opportunities on the side
and commitments and also training so I think that’s one of the biggest changes
Q: How does your mom’s influence on your life affect your career choices and decisions.
Gabrielle Douglas: Well mom – she’s, you know, doing a very good job of raising me and also my siblings. And my mom is just such a powerful and inspirational woman
and she’s definitely helped me throughout my journey, and I would not be
where I am today without her because she’s taught me to just always keep
fighting in life.
And, you know, for her being a single mom and, you know, raising four kids it
was, you know, really hard on her and I saw that. And she would always keep
fighting and she’d always keep us – she’d always keep telling us to keep
fighting. So she was always that mom – just pushed the best out of us and she’s
influenced me and helped me so much not only in gymnastics but also, you
know, in life.
Q: This is for your mom. How has the role as momager impacted your relationship with Gabby?
Natalie Hawkins: I feel like it’s really enriched it. In the beginning, you know, there’s always that time when you’re starting to get used to new roles and looking at each
other a different way.
And so I feel like at sometimes, you know, with Gabrielle trying to figure out
how to look at me as a manager as well as a mom and then also on my end it
was how to look at her as a client, you know, and it’s my daughter.
So it took, you know, a little time for us to figure that out but, you know, since
2012 we – I feel like we’ve done a magnificent job definitely learning how to
flow together and learning how to work together and it’s been a pretty fun
ride. At least I know I can say for me it – I’ve absolutely enjoyed it.
Q: The Rio games are in August so how’s training coming along, along with shooting?
Gabrielle Douglas: Pretty good. We’re done with filming and training’s going very well. I
have a couple of meets before, you know, Rio and I’m real excited but overall
everything’s coming together and I’m just so excited.
Q: What was the hardest part of filming a show and was there anything that you didn’t want the cameras to show?
Natalie Hawkins: I got cut off on my last I think response but I thought at first filming would be hard because you’re letting people into a private part of your life that, you
know, we’ve never done that before.
And so it was like, “Okay, you know, bite your fingernails. Are you ready for
this?” because sometimes when you let people in it’s like you give everybody
sort of like the – I guess you give everybody like a right to kind of like weigh
in because you’re saying, “Hey come and, you know, enjoin – come enjoin
yourself to us and come, you know, walk with us as we go through life.”
And so you kind of open it up for people to give their opinions and so I was
sort of, you know, not – I wasn’t sure I was on board with that. And so when –
Arielle said, “They’re going to – people are going to do that anyway because
Gabrielle is in the public eye.
Why don’t we take the platform and use it in a very positive way?” So I think
that made the filming a lot – a much easier process and a lot more enjoyable
because it wasn’t about, you know, “Oh my gosh,” walking into it so fearful.
It was actually taking it and saying, “Okay this is the platform we’ve been
given. Now let’s do something really positive with it.” And if anyone can walk
away from watching our show and feel inspired, they – they’re laughing and
they’re enjoying, you know, life more then that’s exactly what we’re in it for.
I think the thing we didn’t want to show was the upgrade. We were very, very
selective about what we showed in Gabrielle’s training because, you know,
some stuff is a secret.
Gabrielle Douglas: And I was just going to say for the most part it – filming was fairly easy
and especially since I’m training in Ohio and my family’s in L.A. I got to like
see them more so it was good for me.
Q: Do you think that you will make an actual career out of gymnastics?
Gabrielle Douglas: I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about like what I would do after
Rio, if I want to like continue or like be a coach or something like that or I
don’t know. Just I’ll go in a different path. Like my main focus has been, you know, Rio
but I don’t know. We’ll see.
Q: Since you are going back to Rio and going back to the Olympics, what are you going to do differently now that you’ve already gone through this process before?
Gabrielle Douglas: You know what? It’s funny because for me I’m just going to do the exact same as I did before and just stay calm, relaxed, you know, do what I – I’ve
been doing in training.
I think the only thing different that’s, you know, going to change for me is my
mindset to just go out there and be more aggressive than I ever have been, and
just to be more mentally strong this time than last time.
SytonniaLIVE: Hi Gabby. Hi mom.
Natalie Hawkins: Hi.
SytonniaLIVE: Talk a little bit about the dynamic in your family. We know what
role your mom plays outside of mom. Tell us a little bit about outside of
sibling… what your siblings’ roles in your life and your career are.
Gabrielle Douglas: They have to sacrifice so much for me and definitely helped me achieve
my goal in London. And they’re, you know, on this journey with me to the
Olympics and they’ve always, you know, my family has always been my
biggest supporter and my backup. And it was funny because I was just talking to one of my teammates on the National team because I just went to, you know, the National Team Camp and, you know, we were talking about the show and then we were talking about
the, you know, our siblings.
And I was like, “I could never – like I’m so glad I have siblings because I
don’t know if I would make it because I hate being alone.” And, you know,
they’ve really supported me throughout my gymnastics career and we’re all so
close and we have this unique and special bond with, you know, each other
and we love to have fun and we’re so competitive. It just gets so real and yes
we’re just – we just love to have a good time.
Natalie Hawkins: And can I throw something in also to add to that?
Natalie Hawkins: I look at the – I’m – because I’m mom, right. I’m on the practical side but I look at the things like Arielle furnishing Gabrielle’s apartment because
Gabrielle can’t do that.
She’s, you know, busy training 30 plus hours a week so Arielle steps up and,
you know, goes and furnishes her apartment and, you know, makes sure her
laundry is done and now my mom helps out with that and my mom makes
sure she’s fed.
But like where siblings are concerned Arielle – we call her like the muscle one
because she handles everything in the background to make life easy and
seamless for Gabrielle.
And then I would say Joy comes in and she also helps as far as, you know,
decorating because Joy has that really artistic eye. And they both come on and
really started to work with Gabrielle on her leotard line, so that’s really
exciting for them to be able to get into sort of the fashion industry and really
start to just see where that road takes them.
Q: Gabby obviously you are aware that we live in this age where, you know, this generation believes that their every move must be shared online and so I’m just curious to know.
Do you feel any pressures about – do you struggle with the pressure of living
in this obsessive, selfie obsessed digital media age where, you know, you’re
constantly comparing yourself with the images that they bombard us with, you
know, the beauty of what – the standard of beauty of what a woman should
And I guess to kind of tie my question in if you don’t struggle with the
pressures of this selfie obsessed digital social media age that we live in, do
you find yourself offering advice to young women who are struggling in this
social media age in how to feel assured and confident in themselves, and what
type of advice do you give them?
Gabrielle Douglas: Sure. Yes that’s a good question and, you know, social media nowadays
has these – has this standard where you have to look a certain way. And for
me I don’t feel pressured about like, you know, posting or like being a certain
way or like, you know, anything like that.
And my advice would be who – people are struggling with that is just to really
love yourself and really, you know, not be someone who you’re not and really
embrace yourself and embrace your – and your beauty and your character.
You know, you should not try to change yourself for, you know, the look that
society has these days. You should really – like, “You know what? I’m good
the way I am and, you know, I love myself.”
And you’ve got to be like – you’ve got to be confident and like, “Oh yes I
look good today,” and, you know, not have like insecurities. That’s my advice.
Q: What opportunities, endorsements or sponsorships have you been presented with since you – since your win?
Gabrielle Douglas: I have my own signature leotard line by GK.
I’m sponsored by Nike, P&G, AT&T. I’m a Citi athlete and is that it mom? I
Natalie Hawkins: Yes. I think you named pretty much everybody and then there’s a lot of
different individual one-off campaigns with Nintendo, OPI, Kellogg’s and
we’ve got a pretty long list…
Q: How are you able as a single mom — to make sure that while your other children had what they needed, you gave Gabby what she needed to become who she is today? How were you able to balance all those children?
Natalie Hawkins: Right, four children. I have a lot of children. I thought it was vitally important that each one of my children always felt like they were my favorite.
So they all will say to each other, “You’re mom’s favorite.” “No you’re mom’s
favorite,” and I love that because they’re pointing at each other so I know that
I accomplished my goal.
And one of the just practical things I used to do was have mom and maybe a
son date or mom and one of my daughter dates I called them. And so I would
isolate each child and I would have alone time with them, because sometimes
it was just really difficult to really have that one-on-one interaction because
they were all athletes.
They’re all – they were all so busy. They were all in school so I had to just be
really diligent to do practical things that I, you know, that I could do to get
what I wanted and what I wanted to see and I wanted to see my children
supporting one another.
I didn’t want to deal with a lot of sibling rivalry so I – definitely from the time
they were really, really young I always encouraged them to cheer each other
And even when they were like little, 2, 3, 4, you know, I’d say, “You know,
clap for your sister.” Like when Gabrielle would do the cartwheel everybody
would go out, you know, gather around and they – and I would, you know,
like I – and when you clap, you know, they clap because you’re the example.
And so I really just tried to live out that example that I wanted to see in them.
I try to live that out before them and then I also gave them that individual time
so that none of them felt left out.
And I made sure that we all went as a family to support each person in
whatever activity they were doing. So as a family we always go to Gabrielle’s
We would always go support Joy when she was, you know, doing an ice
skating competition. You know, there were a lot of time where the girls
couldn’t go to John’s activity because it coincided on the same days.
But when they could everybody went to support John and then, you know,
everybody went to the cheerleading competitions to support Arielle when she
was doing competition cheerleading, although John didn’t like that too much
until he became a teenager. It’s just like… Yes he was – “Just sign me up.” So, you know, it was just really focused. I was very deliberate and I parented on purpose. And, you know, I wasn’t….perfect but for me it was about being engaged and it was about really
working to see my kids thrive and that takes effort on the parent’s part. You
can’t let the ball drop and so I – early on I decided that, you know, I want
them to be involved in sports because I thought – and for me I was an athlete
and so I know the type of discipline that you – it encourages.
And so I didn’t know that it would take us, you know, along this path but I
knew that sports and being active – and you see like a lot of the campaigns
now are promoting that.
The Clinton administration, you know, their foundation had something.
Michelle Obama has something and there are a lot of, you know, the
corporations, you know, Nike and a lot of the other sports companies – they
have these initiatives where they’re encouraging children to get out there and
play and enjoy sports because it is a very positive model, you know, to teach
them self-discipline and to have a good self-image of yourself and self-
confidence. So yes I was doing that though when they were very little.
Q: What will viewers learn about you from the reality show
that they may not already know about you?
Natalie Hawkins: I think they’ll see just more of an inside take on how we stay together as a family because I think everybody knows that that’s always been something
they’ve been able to see like at the Olympics and every time I see the footage,
you know, of us crying it just brings back so many amazing memories.
But I think that they’ll see behind – more behind the scenes of how we stay
together as a family, how we tackle adversity so more of the how we do it.
And I think what everybody has not ever seen is Gabrielle as the prankster.
You’ll definitely get to see her.
Q: Do you ladies have a favorite reality show
that you watch on a weekly basis and – or if you feel like your show is similar
to any that are currently on.
Natalie Hawkins: I don’t feel that our show is similar to any other than – specific to the sports type journey going to the Olympics. I feel like our show has kind of been a
one of a kind where we’re actually filming it during the process.
Most shows have filmed it, you know, not so quite near the actual competition
as far as the Olympics or, you know, World Championships and, you know, I
feel like we did something very unique there. I was very excited about that.
And I actually really love watching Chrisley Knows Best……because I like the humor and so I think when you can watch a show and laugh it’s really amazing. We also love the cooking shows. Chopped is one of our favorites too.
Q: This one is for mom. I wanted to ask can you recall a time where Gabby
was like really defeated or she was down on herself and you gave her some
words of encouragement?
I know she already knows but…..
I was being funny. I was like yesterday!
…at the U.S. Championship she had fallen a few times and I just remember at
the end of the competition we were walking back to the hotel and she was so
And I – then in that moment I actually didn’t know what to say so I said
nothing. And when we got back to the room I thought more important than me
saying anything was showing her something.
And so I told her you – when – I told all her siblings that they were not going
to say anything, no encouraging words, no nothing. There’s no need to say a
And I just looked at Gabrielle and I said, “You know, I’m not going to let the
image of defeat be ingrained in you. We’re going to plug in and tune up, you
know, queue up – we’re going to plug in and queue up your performances
where you hit your routines beautifully and exquisitely.
And that’s the image that’s going to, you know, that’s going to be in your
mind,” because she still had another day of competition at Championships.
The first day was really bad and she still had another day because
Championships is two-day competition.
And so I put on YouTube and she just watched those videos over and over:
vault, beam, bars, floor and I had her – well I guess the order is vault, bars,
But I had her watch those performances where she had executed her routine
beautifully and I said, “You’re going to get that image ingrained, not the one
I wanted her to…..believe she could do it.
Q: How’d that – how did that feel Gabby when you – when your mom, you
know, started queuing up the videos and everything?
At first I was just like, “No. Like I don’t want to see it.” Like I was being
very negative because I had such a bad competition and, you know, when
things, you know, went bad I would kind of like give up and not like fight till
But then once I started watching and seeing, you know, what they saw I was
just like, “Wow. You know what? I really can do that and I really can do this.”
And it just boosted me up and it put me in a really good mood and the second
day of competition I still had a little bit, you know, of mistakes and falls but
you know what? It was better than the first night so it definitely helped.
Q: Mom once again. What about boys? What are we doing with dating and boys and balancing career and TV and all those things that your teenage girl has to go through?
Natalie Hawkins: We didn’t do boys. Big brother John was not having that. Once Joyelle brought home a boy from school. He had walked her home and John went outside with a BB gun and started popping it off in the air.
So I figured he’d do that for his older sister Joy. I shudder to think what it
would’ve looked like for his baby sister so……he’s very protective and I would say that’s just the funny part of it. But seriously she was in the gym 34, 36 hours a week. She didn’t have much time for anything else.
She had to– she, you know, wanted to focus on her career and I encouraged
her to do that. And sometimes it seemed like she was missing out on the
school experience – high school experience but she was traveling the world
and getting to experience things that her peers, you know, sometimes don’t get
And so she may not have had the traditional, you know, teenage upbringing or,
you know, life but she had an amazing – I would say she had an amazing life
Q: Talk about some of the sacrifices that you had to make early on before the
Olympics to get her to the point to where she’s at the Olympics. You know,
gymnastics is – it’s – I’m sure it’s an expensive sport.
So talk about some of the sacrifices that you had to make as a single mom to
make sure she had everything that she needed to succeed in the industry.
For me I’ll – I told Gabrielle. To me it was always about building strong roots
of faith with my children. I wanted them to always believe in their gifts and in
And sometimes, you know, when things don’t go your way or when things
seem, you know, just insanely difficult you sometimes need to lose sight that,
“Okay I have these gifts.
I have these talents. That should actually fuel me and get me to the finish
line.” But the reality is we come up against these obstacles and then you can
start to doubt yourself and you can start to doubt your calling.
And so I really wanted to make sure that they had a good foundation, that they
would be able to have a foundation that they could draw on in those times that
were most difficult because it’s easy to rejoice when everything is going good.
It’s a lot harder to rejoice when things are going really bad and so I would
always…..teach them that it’s in those moments that you need to rejoice the most,
because a lot of times we forget about that part and it’s like you get depressed.
You get depressed because you forget to rejoice and so I would always
encourage them with that. And I had to encourage myself with it and there
were times when my kids – because I had taught that lesson to them.
When I would forget they were able to echo that back to me. And so as far as
the sacrifice, you know, it was just overwhelming at times because I went for
four years without a new pair of tennis shoes and I remember the people at my
job just kind of like, you know, laughing and joking about it.
But I was that serious into pouring into my children and I didn’t care about a
new pair of shoes. I didn’t care about, you know, a new car. I didn’t care
about, you know, having luxuries.
I just wanted to know that there was enough food on the table for my kids to
eat and that there was enough money left over for me to help them accomplish
their dreams and goals.
And so we did sacrifice a lot and there were a lot of things that we did
without. You know, I pawned almost every – well not almost. I pawned every
piece of jewelry or anything that – with value so that I would have the
resources to go to her competitions with my kids and support her.
And so it was just overwhelming but I can look back and look at how
rewarding it was to do that, to plant – I call it planting and we were planting.
And I was waiting for the blossoms, you know, to come up and for the flowers
to bloom and sometimes that’s a – it’s a process where you’re looking –
you’re – it’s like watching water boil.
You know, it’s like is it ever going to start boiling? But that’s when you have
to have faith. That’s when you just have to trust the process and know that it’s
all going to be okay.
I know it sounds cliché but in the end, you know, you have to believe that
when you sow things, when you sow goodness you’re going to reap it. We all
What comes around goes around so I use that on the positive side and say,
“Okay we’re giving love. We’ve giving, you know, sacrifice. We’re giving our
energies and efforts. It’s going to come back,” and boy did it ever