Gabby Douglas, 25, knows what it feels like to win, and the Olympic gold medalist is a champion once again. During The Masked Dancer finale on Feb. 17, Gabby was crowned the show’s first winner. The gymnast was revealed as Cotton Candy after weeks of tough competition.
HollywoodLife chatted EXCLUSIVELY with the Olympian about her Masked Dancer journey. Gabby admitted that she’s “never done anything like this before” and enjoyed every minute of it. She also revealed how she was feeling right after that jaw-dropping fall while rehearsing for one of her earlier performances. Read our full Q&A below:
You are no stranger to being a winner, but what were you feeling in that moment when you were crowned The Masked Dancer champion?
Gabby Douglas: I was like, this is the Olympics all over again because it was such a fun experience. It took a lot of hard work and effort, but it was such fun work. If I could do it again I would because it was an extraordinary experience.
What was it about the Cotton Candy costume that really stood out to you?
Gabby Douglas: I loved her different layers. I loved her big skirt, I loved her candy pieces, and her candy crown on the top. There were little gumdrops and little candies all around and glitter on her outfit. I loved her lashes and big smile and candy head. Wardrobe did such an amazing job with her costume, and I loved every inch of that costume.
What was it like performing in the costume?
Gabby Douglas: I’ve never done anything like this before. It was so different because I’m used to performing with just me and not with the whole get-up. It was fun. I got to go outside of myself, do something so new, be in character, and also dance at the same time. It was really fun.
In your final performance, you did a front tuck as well as front walkovers and back walkovers. How did you keep the mask on? I was so scared it was going to fall off.
Gabby Douglas: I was honestly wondering about that piece, too. They had a buckle under my chin, so the mask fits pretty tight. It wobbled here and there, but it didn’t fly off.
For your final performance, did you know from the beginning that you wanted to incorporate some of your gymnastics movies knowing that might be a giveaway?
Gabby Douglas: I was ready to go for it. I was talking with my producer. I absolutely love him. I was like, “Do you think we should flip or will that give it away?” He’s like, “We got to go out with a bang.” And I’m like, “You know what? Let’s go! Add everything into this performance, and I’ll leave it out on the floor.” So that’s what we did. The judges were close anyway, so we were like, why not?
How did you feel when you saw Ashley Tisdale tearing up over your final performance?
Gabby Douglas: She made me cry. I was already emotional that day because it was the last performance and my last time with everyone. But I was so glad that I got to express all my emotions and feelings and performance. And I was so happy that reached the judges.
Dance and gymnastics are different, but they do have some similarities. How would you say your gymnastics training helped you in terms of learning routines?
Gabby Douglas: So I was very fortunate to have at least some type of rhythm and being very fast at picking up choreography. But it is very different because dancing is all about feeling and emotion and vibe and passion. Whereas gymnastics you do get a little bit of a feel for that, but it’s more static poses instead of moving and doing different genres of dance.
Do you have a favorite performance?
Gabby Douglas: I can’t even pick. I loved every single performance because I got to do so many cool things and tricks in character and vibe to every single one of them. So I don’t know if I can pick.
In one of your earlier performances, you actually had that really terrifying fall. What was going through your head in that moment when you fell?
Gabby Douglas: I was like, I can’t believe I just fell. It happened so fast, and I wanted to make it so beautiful. I wasn’t paying attention. My left shoulder was outside of the ring and the costume, of course, added extra weight. That’s when I fell. But I was like, I can’t believe I fell, but let me check my teeth because I don’t want any chips or teeth missing. Everything was fine. I got up and was like, let’s do it again.
Did you think you were hurt? Or were you immediately fine after you fell?
Gabby Douglas: I was good. I gave myself just a few minutes to make sure I didn’t move too quickly, just in case. I was splayed on the ground, but I was so fortunate to have the Cotton Candy outfit on because she did pad the fall for me. I was super grateful. But I was checking my teeth for at least two minutes that I was on the ground. Everybody was freaking out. And I’m like, you guys, I’m fine. I just got up and was like, I’m good.
Was there a moment where you didn’t want to try the aerial move again?
Gabby Douglas: No, I was like, I have to get right back up there and do it. Everyone said to take a second and take a breath. I’m like, no, I really want to do this. I want to make it so amazing because it was such a beautiful piece. I really wanted to do it justice. I did not want to change anything because it was so, so beautiful and so perfect as it is.
You have performed on the world’s biggest stage. This is a little bit different for you. What has The Masked Dancer meant to you and just the experience of doing something completely different than what you’ve done before?
Gabby Douglas: It means so much to me. Just to be able to have this amazing journey, in my mind, I can’t even put words to it. The whole entire experience was so fun. I loved every single challenge. I loved putting in hard work and effort. It has honestly inspired and just kind of awakened this passion in me to even dance more.
The Olympics are coming up. What is your status with that? What are your plans for 2021?
Gabby Douglas: Honestly, I’m taking it one day at a time. Are we still going to have the Olympics? I have no idea, but we’ll definitely see.