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Georgia native Angel Rice featured on Netflix show 'Cheer'

The international cheerleading star talks about her spirit beyond the sport.

ATLANTA —  A Georgia family is gaining new stardom after being featured on one of Netflix's most popular shows. The second season of Cheer follows some of the U.S.'s top cheerleaders, including Decatur native Angel Rice and her brother Jaden "Jaymo." 

This season, the docuseries follows the brother-sister duo as part of Trinity Valley Community College's cheer squad, the rivals of returning cheer champions Navarro College

Studying and cheering in Athens, Texas, the Rice siblings received much of their training just outside of Atlanta along with their older sister, Dekiera "Keekee" Olriedge. Their cheer foundation was established by their mom and coach Tonyona Ebony Olriedge. 

Under her mother's guidance and with plenty of determination, Angel Rice has become a four-time world champion for cheer and a USA Gymnastics team member. The 23-year-old power tumbler also broke a Guinness World Record for the most double full twists performed in one minute, which she did on the Today Show in 2015.

She's been called the "Simone Biles of cheerleading," but to her family, despite her accomplishments, she's still just Angel.

"Angel is very humble. She's always humble," her mother said during an interview with 11Alive. Olriedge said she raised all of her kids to be.

"I let them know that I teach them reality. Reality is you're not, you're Beyoncé so you can't act like Beyoncé." 

Rice chuckled at her mother's remarks and nodded in agreement.

"I definitely do feel like my attitude is different from a lot of people," she said. "A lot of people like the attention for the wrong reasons."

Rice said she's grateful for the blessings that have come her way and does what she can to make sure each interaction with a fan or child is special.

"It takes a maximum of 10 seconds to make a kid's day," she said. "People only get to see you probably one time in their life - you never know what can happen." 

When it comes to Rice, her heart is bigger than her fame.

Rice is currently studying to become a nurse. Though she's at TVCC for cheer, she is still on top of her academics - noting that even biology is proving to be a tough class.

But for her, nursing as an occupation just makes sense.

"I became interested in nursing because I'm really, I'm a really good caretaker," she said. "I took care of my grandmother on her deathbed, you know, helped the nurses and I learned stuff from that."

Before she considered nursing a career, Rice's love for animals sparked her interest in becoming a vet. 

"She collects animals, like collects," her mother said.

"I had a zoo at one point," Rice admitted.

As a young teenager, Rice had just about every small pet a child could want. Hamsters, a rabbit, a turtle, guinea pigs, a bird, a cat, dogs and even snakes -- but those weren't kept at home.

"She didn't tell you that they would get out and run around the house," her mom said. "They would hide in pillows and it's crazy, she tried to get a pig, a goat."

"I have a soft spot in my heart for them, I love animals," Rice said. "But I like people a lot more."

Rice mentioned that she hasn't ruled out sports medicine either, adding that as an athlete who has experienced injuries she could probably contribute to the profession. 

And Rice is tough, according to her mother.

'Georgia bred'

"Angel competed a whole year on a fractured collarbone," her mother said about Rice's time cheering at Johns Creek High School.

Another time, Rice had a cast on her hand after breaking her fingers. A week before a competition, Rice still had the cast on.

"She went home, cut the cast off, taped up the fingers and kept it moving -- and never looked back," her mother said.

Olriedge said it's an example of what she calls a "Georgia bred" athlete.

"They're very, very tough," she said. "They're so strong, they're so determined."

Olriedge, who has traveled across the country coaching the next generation of cheerleaders said athletes from the south seem to have a different fire in them that motivates them to keep going.

"They'll go until they can't go anymore. And when they can't go they're wrapping their ankles up, taping up, and keep going," she said. "I mean, these kids do stuff to their bodies that are unreal and I just know I've worked with Georgia kids for so long that they're just tough -- and I will stand by that until the day I die."

"Georgia bred, I call it."

No place like home

Though she runs into incredible Georgia talent in the cheer world, Rice admits it can make her miss home.

"I love the city, I think I'm a city girl," she said about Atlanta. "I'm always in the city."

She said when she's in town she loves visiting Atlantic Station during the holidays, especially for the ice skating rink and Christmas lights. 

"You have the Buckhead area, you know you get to see a lot of celebrities who live there," she said.

But by far, a must-see for anyone visiting Atlanta is the Georgia Aquarium, the mother and daughter duo said.

"The dolphin show is my favorite," Rice said.

Her mother added that Rice hasn't really been home much since she was a teenager. Olriedge, who lives in Covington, Georgia, said with her daughter going to school in Texas, she's the closest she's been to home in a while. 

"I love Texas," Rice said. "Athens is just like a small town."

The cheerleader said she's used to having more food options and having a Publix nearby, admitted it was a bit of a shock when she realized how different her lifestyle would be.

"You have to drive 45 minutes to even see a Chick-fil-A," she said. "I love Chick-fil-A."

Rice said though it's not exactly what she was used to living near Atlanta, she understands it's something she has to adapt to as she makes it through this leg of her college cheerleading career.

Her mom says it's something she's adapting to as well.

Family is everything

"I definitely call her every day, all day," Olriedge said. "Like my stress level has went from zero to 100 because my kids are not home and I got to realize they're not kids anymore."

Olriedge said that's why when Jaymo and Angel are home, she tries to bring the family together as much as possible. 

"We all we got," she said. "It's always been us."

At the core of their family is love and support. Intertwined within their bond is cheerleading.

"Cheerleading is life," Olriedge said.

A former hairdresser, Olriedge said cheerleading will be in her family's future for as long as they want it to be.

From teaching Angel how to tumble in the grass and in her living room, to helping Jaymo pivot from football to stunts, to becoming a formal coach herself, Olriedge believes her next steps will be making more of a name for herself. 

"We are trying our hardest to start our own gym," she said.

Olriedge said her eldest daughter, KeeKee is a cheerleading coach in Georgia too. The mother of three thinks with her experience in the cheer world she can open her own facility to contribute to the community and give kids in the area a positive outlet. She also believes the facility can be a testament to what her family has built together.

"That's our life, cheer is life for us," she said.

For Rice, she said she's taking everything one step at a time and taking opportunities as they come. 

"You never know what's going to happen, you never know what obstacles are going to be thrown in your way," she said. "Enjoy life."

The international cheer sensation said she wants others who look up to her to understand that it isn't just about hard work either, it's about the attitude one has while trying to achieve their goals. She has her own strategy when it comes to tackling her goals. 

"Don't respond to negativity. There's been negativity on this earth even before I was born and there's going to be some after you pass over -- don't respond to it," she said. "You're going to fail but you just have to find an inner strength to help you get through life."

For her, it's cheerleading and competing, at least for now.