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Arts and Entertainment

On the record with actress Imani Hakim
Hakim talks playing Gabrielle Douglas and being homeless
Published Friday, January 31, 2014
by Michaela L. Duckett

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Imani Hakim got her big break at age 11, landing the role as Tonya Rock on the hit show "Everybody Hates Chris." The actress, now 20, will portray Gabrielle Douglas in the Lifetime movie "The Gabby Douglas Story," which premiers Feb. 1 at 8 p.m.

It’s been nearly a decade since the nation was introduced to Imani Hakim as Tonya Rock on “Everybody Hates Chris.” She was just 11 year old when she landed the role.

Hakim has since blossomed into a grown woman, and the 20-year-old thespian is taking her career to new heights as one of two actresses portraying Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas in the Lifetime film “The Gabby Douglas Story,” which airs Feb. 1 at 8 p.m.

The Post recently caught up with Hakim. In the following Q&A the young starlet dishes on her role as the “flying squirrel,” being homeless and why she’s not fond of the title “role model.”

Q: Tell me about your experience portraying Gabby Douglas in the movie. What was it like to play her?

It was a very exciting experience, something that I will remember forever. I will forever be grateful that I was able to play such an inspiring person, someone who has made history. I thought it was really cool.

Q: What was it about her story that resonated with you most?

I think that because we have so many similarities with our stories, that’s why I connected so well to this role. It’s a very inspiring story because she made so many sacrifices, not only for herself but also for her family. She pursued her dreams…

Q: What are some of the similarities that you two share?

At one point Gabrielle and her family were living in a van. They were homeless. And at one point, when my dad and I came out to California to pursue my dream we were also homeless. We ended up running out of money, and we were living in our van.

Then at 15, after I was already in the industry, my family moved back to Ohio, and I stayed out in Los Angeles with my manager to pursue my dreams on my own without my family. And that’s the same thing with Gabrielle. She was 14 when she moved to Iowa… Sacrifices have to be made. That really connected with me.

Q: What was the most challenging part of playing the role?

The gymnastics aspect… It was very foreign to my body. I’ve never moved like that before… It was pretty challenging, but it was a great challenge. It was a fun challenge that I enjoyed and will probably do again.

Q: Many young girls look up to Gabrielle Douglas as a role model. Do you consider yourself to be a role model as well?

I don’t really like the term role model. I feel like role model is something that people have such high standards for. So if people look up to me, I think that’s great. If they look at me as a positive influence, I think that’s also good. I don’t mind that. I think that’s awesome, but as for as being a ‘role model,’ I want people to know that I’m not perfect. But if I can inspire you or motivate you, then that’s great. I’m happy to do that for you!

Q: Other than filming “The Gabby Douglas Story,” what have you been up to since we last saw you playing Tonya on “Everybody Hates Chris?”

I’ve just been constantly studying my craft. I’ve been going to acting classes and learning about the industry and improving myself as an artist.

I look at this industry as our own version of the Olympics. You have to train hard to stay at the top. So that’s what I’ve been doing.



Hope all is well imano
Posted on April 13, 2014
You are an amazing actress. I absolutely loved you in "Everybody Hates Chris." You did an amazing job playing Gabby Douglas as well. I hope to see you in more roles in the future.
Posted on February 13, 2014
U were great in the movie at first I didn't know who you were but when I learned did was like oh wow she has really grew up. Keep up the good work no one good have did this part any justice other than gabby her self great job
Posted on February 4, 2014
You did an amazing job portraying Gabriel Douglas I look forward yo seeing more if your work
Posted on February 3, 2014
Great job all young people boys and girls should see the gabby story, im from new jersey, and the kids here look at drugs and gangs for outlets please keep doing what your doing i love you imani keep up the good work God bless you, bro, Al Adams.
Posted on February 3, 2014
i loved the gabby douglas story . i thought it was a good thing to do . because many kids, and adults look up to her.
Posted on February 3, 2014
i love the gabby douglas story . i though it was a good thing to do ...
Posted on February 3, 2014

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