Imani Hakim is all grown up and is no longer the aggy and conniving Tonya on Everybody Hates Chris and has morphed into a woman. Imani nabbed the role as as Gabby Douglas in the new biopic, The Gabby Douglas Story. The movie will premiere on February 1st on Lifetime starring Regina King and S. Epatha Merkerson.
In our chat, Imani expressed for her love for prestigious cast members, her transition from sitcom to movie role and the unique way she found out about auditions.
How as it been transitioning from a comedic television series character to a serious movie role?
The transition for me has been rougher than I expected. I think it’s because I am transforming from being a child actor to a serious actress. But as far as transitioning to more serious, it wasn’t difficult at all. Yes, I was on a TV show that was known for comedy and guest appearances, but it was also drama.
Tell us about the process of getting the role of Gabby Douglas?
I actually found out about the audition on Twitter. The casting director tweeted about open castings in Atlanta and New York. So I called my manager and said’ What! There is an audition for this role? I’ve been waiting on this role all my life’. That something I know I can definitely play. Soon as the Olympics was over I was like, ‘ if they ever do a movie about Gabby Douglas, that would be my role’. So I called my manager and emailed my agency and made them get me an audition. They got me in, I got a called back, then next thing you know, I booked it.
How did you react to the good news?
I was screaming in my car. I was driving to acting class and my manger and agent called and tried to pull a prank as if I didn’t get the role. But it didn’t work. It was a really happy moment for me.
In portraying Gabby Douglas, did you have to go through gymnastic training?
I did some training with gymnastics. We did a week or two of training and then we went directly into shooting. While we were shooting , we still did a couple days of training here and there. We learned all the routines; the floor routine, the beam routine. It was very nerve racking being on that beam. The beam is very tiny. It was only 4 inches and doing turns and stuff on it was crazy.
Did Gabby ever step in to give you small pointers?
She wasn’t there for the training process. She came the last week of filming. We were filming a floor routine scene and she was on set that day, and she did give me some notes for that particular floor scene. I don’t remember exactly what she told me, but whatever it was, it made me much better.
In between taping, what did you do to have fun?
I would grab lunch or to dinner with Ms. Regina King. We would go to the mall and go shopping. I would just hang out with the cast members the majority or the time. We were in another country, so there really wasn’t much for us to do.
Speaking for Regina King, you had the opportunity to work with Gabby Douglas, Regina King, and S.Epatha Merkerson. What did you learn being on set with these ladies?
I was definitely inspired because these women have paved the way for me to do what I am doing. They have been doing it for a very long time; these are women who I look up to and aspire to be like. I learned from just watching them and saw how natural and easy it came to them. I learned life lessons just by conversing with them in between scenes. They all are phenomenal people.
Do you have a most memorable moment on set?
Just being able to bond with Regina King. She and I became really, really close and developed a friendship. So her just inviting me and taking me to the mall, I thought that was really cool. I am grateful and thankful I had the opportunity. I made an awesome friend out of it.
What’s your favorite television show?
I’m obsessed with Scandal and I’m obsessed with Kerry Washington.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself happy and growing [as an] artist.
What else can we expect from you thing year?
I am really excited about this project and just happy to be doing what I love. So right now I am focusing on promoting this film. I am looking at different scripts and exploring things. This is what I am focusing on until my next project.