The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 12, 2020 1:00 am

Lifetime, Roberts telling stories 2 ways

Jay Bobbin | Zap2it

Robin Roberts has done many things during her “Good Morning America” tenure, but she's entering uncharted territory. For her, anyway.

The award-winning ABC weekday staple becomes an executive producer of TV movies with the premiere of Lifetime's recurring “Robin Roberts Presents” franchise Saturday.

The fact-based dramas will correspond with Roberts-hosted documentaries on the same subjects ... the first film being “Stolen by My Mother: The Kamiyah Mobley Story,” about a young woman (played by Rayven Ferrell) who comes to realize the South Carolina woman who raised her (portrayed by Niecy Nash) kidnapped her as a newborn from a Florida hospital.

“We did quite a few stories” on the situation on “GMA” when it first became news, the friendly Roberts recalls. “My colleague Eva Pilgrim spent a lot of time with Kamiyah, and I did a satellite interview with Kamiyah as well. It was a story that really resonated with our audience, and I was just so impressed with how Kamiyah was handling everything. I could not imagine finding out, at 18, that the person who raised you was not really your mother.

“The way she was navigating both families, and the response we were getting from our 'GMA' audience, made me want to know more about it,” adds Roberts. “And I'm glad that we're doing a companion documentary, because you want to know how she's doing now.”

Roberts' “Beyond the Headlines” interview with the real Mobley – who recently announced she's moving back to her native Florida – follows the movie.

“I also spoke to her biological father,” Roberts reports, “and she's really drawn to him and the children he has, though she's close to her South Carolina family as well. She's still trying to build a relationship with her biological mother; that has been a little more tenuous for her.”

The project also is significant for ESPN alum Roberts as the springboard into a new career phase.

“I'm a journalist, and storytelling is storytelling,” she reasons. “It's been challenging, because I'm used to the world I've been in, where I go in and we're live for two hours. There's an immediacy to what I do day-in and day-out, but on the other hand, not with this. You have to be patient.

“I spent time with Kamiyah and her legal team securing the rights to her story,” notes Roberts. “Did we take some artistic license? That's what you do (in a drama), and that's why it was so important to me as a journalist to have the documentary. We had to give people the absolute facts, but I'm getting to stretch another muscle that I don't usually use at 'GMA,' so it's been a great complement.”

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