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This story first appeared in the Aug. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Last year, the most respected baseball player in Philadelphia was all of 13 years old. While the Phillies languished at the bottom of the NL East, South Philly’s own Mo’ne Davis became a pitching sensation as she nearly led her team (all boys, other than her), the Taney Dragons, to the Little League Baseball championship. Although Taney was eliminated in the semifinals, Davis captured the hearts of her city — and of the nation — as the first girl to win a game, not to mention pitch a shutout, in the Little League World Series. Now 14, Davis has a future full of possibilities. The Disney Channel is making a movie based on her life, and the Harlem Globetrotters recently drafted her to join the novelty ballers after she graduates from college. (Yes, she also excels at basketball. Soccer, too.) THR sat down with Davis to find out what sports’ brightest new star already knows about the media limelight. “It happened so fast that I couldn’t really think about it, whether I wanted to do this or not,” she says. “It wasn’t really a choice.”
What’s your next big move?
I’m going to keep playing the same sports that I’ve played and not change anything. Sometimes the media take it a different way, and they ask me questions as if I’m older than 14, as if I control all of the events in my life. Some things about the movie, they think I know parts of that. I’m like, “I don’t know anything about that because I’m here [in Philly] most of the time.”
Are there sports that you have absolutely no interest in at all?
Boxing, and — what is it? — MMA. I’m not a big fan of swimming. And nothing that includes running, because I’m not fast and I don’t like to run, unless it has to do with another sport.
Women’s sports are getting a lot more attention lately, but they still lag behind men’s sports in terms of public interest. What’s it like from your perspective?
I know there are a lot of girls doing basketball, so they’re going to have to build more teams so that everyone can play. Women’s basketball is more fun to watch. You don’t usually see a man score 40-plus points in three or more games [like WNBA star Elena Delle Donne]. You don’t see a lot of men doing that, and they don’t give women recognition for it. I mean, they show WNBA games on TV, but not as much. They just started paying attention to the Women’s World Cup, and some people didn’t know what it was until, like, the final game. They have to start showing more women’s sports on TV so that more girls will join.
The Disney Channel is making a movie about you. Did you ever imagine that your life was like a movie?
I always thought that my life was like a video game — that someone was way up in the sky and they were controlling me and everything I did. But it wasn’t someone else in the sky. It was me.
If you could meet yourself a year and a half ago, what would you say? What advice would you give?
I would say, “Be aware,” and just leave it at that. I wouldn’t want to say what happens, because that can change everything. So I would just say be aware, and be ready, and be friendly. I think that’s it.
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