The stern-faced champion vaulter and internet phenomenon talks to THR while on the town in New York City.
When it comes to Olympic gymnastics, McKayla Maroney means business: recall the U.S. power vaulter's famously stern, fiercely intimidating expression while going for gold at the London games. Her take-no-prisoners pout has resulted in comparisons to Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham as well as 15 minutes of viral internet fame on the amusing blog "mckayla is not impressed."
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A web meme was born when a New York-based digital designer launched the site on Tumblr last week, creating a stir online with superimposed photos of Maroney's less-than-enthused reaction to losing the gold medal in vault finals. (She had to settle for silver.) It exploded with examples of Maroney not being impressed: sulking in front of NBC's 30 Rock headquarters and in the background while Beyonce flaunted her baby bump, among others.
On Tuesday night at the New York premiere party for Sparkle, we encountered a different, more relaxed Maroney, who could not wipe the grin from her face as she took photos with the film's stars including Jordin Sparks and other famous partygoers such as Russell Simmons and Gabourey Sidibe.
"No, I'm not but it appears when I'm on TV," Maroney, 16, told THR when asked whether she's as "stern" on the inside as she is during competitions. "I think it looks like I am. Sometimes I scare myself a little bit. I'm just really focused and really serious, I guess, and I think it's really funny, that Tumblr. It makes them and me laugh all the time."
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A swarm of cameras descended upon Maroney and teammates Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman and Kyla Ross as they sat together at The Yard at Soho Grand. (All-around gymnastics gold-medalist Gabby Douglas skipped the event.) Earlier that day, the entire crew made appearances on the Today show as well as the Late Show With David Letterman, where the curmudgeonly host commended Maroney for competing with a broken toe. (See: video of the interview here.)
"Just being there at the Olympics you kind of just take in every single moment," Maroney, wearing a black cocktail dress, told THR. "You really try to remember everyone and there were so many special moments and so many great times and just to be there with my best friends and there with the Olympic team, um, we had an amazing time and I hope I never forget it."
Next up for the girls: the Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions, kicking off next month. Also, said Raisman, "2016 is definitely in the back of our minds."
Echoed Maroney of going for the gold in Rio de Janeiro: "Definitely. I really hope that is something that I can fulfill. I didn't do everything that I wanted to do in this Olympics and hopefully I'll be ready by then."