In 2016 Morgan Mitchell made a decision that would change her life forever, although she didn’t know it at the time.
The Australian sprinter was asked by Anna Weatherlake, the wife of cricketer Peter Siddle, if she wanted to take part in a “small” documentary about vegan athletes.
Fast forward three years and Mitchell’s small interview is part of the biggest documentary of the year, The Game Changers.
“I was 21 at the time, so I was like I’ve got nothing else on, why not,” Mitchell told news.com.au.
“I didn’t realise that it would be such a big thing down the track. So at the start I just thought small, little documentary about vegan athletes, that will be fun. Three years here we are.”
Screening on Netflix and with executive producers James Cameron, famed for directing Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film totes the benefits of a vegan diet by citing new research and featuring vegan athlete case studies.
Since its release on Netflix in October,The Game Changers has persuaded people in droves to adopt plant-based diets as well as made the athletes featured vegan superstars.
Mitchell shot her interview and scenes for The Game Changers in Los Angeles following the 2016 Rio Olympics.
She had no idea how big of an impact the film would have until she heard some of the famous names attached to the project.
“I think once I found out James Cameron was a part of it I was like, ‘Oh my gosh’,” Mitchell said.
But from there it was a waiting game for Mitchell, as she eagerly anticipated the release of the film on Netflix.
“It was just such a long wait and a huge process, and all my friends were starting to think it was a myth, and I was just like, ‘Guys, what is happening? I feel like an idiot for promoting this’,” Mitchell joked.
“But I think it was worth it the fact that it took so long and the reception it got, both positive and negative, it’s always going to happen, but I think it’s been amazing because I definitely didn’t expect it to be like this.”
Not all of the attention has been positive, with Mitchell recently finding herself attacked by fitness YouTuber Chris Kruger.
In a 17-minute rant, Kruger disparaged Mitchell’s vegan diet and her body, describing her as having “cottage cheese” thighs.
After coming across the video by chance, Mitchell decided to hit back on Instagram, calling out Kruger for his comments.
“There were a few reasons why I decided to respond. The video he posted the information on is so incorrect it’s not funny,” she said.
“I’ve ticked so many positive boxes I just didn’t want a troll getting in my way, especially as I hate the whole body-shaming, career-shaming thing.”
Since responding, Mitchell said she had received plenty of supportive messages from her followers.
“At the end of the day, yes, I get dimples, I’ve always had dimples before I was even vegan,” she said.
“I’m always going to be a little bit heavier in off season, I’m not going to win every race, flaws are OK and I had so many people reminding me of that.”
Since The Game Changers’ release, Mitchell’s social media following has skyrocketed. According to Social Blade, she gained more than 11,000 followers on Instagram in the last month which is staggeringly higher than her growth previously.
A quick glance at the comments on her Instagram photos shows she has been inundated with questions about going vegan.
“Yeah, for sure, I get a lot of DMs and emails. My close friends I’ve helped out and a few athletes and stuff, but I feel like if you reply to one you’ve have to reply to all,” she said.
“I feel really bad, I’m trying to hold off until I can actually come out with sometime in the near future that can just help everyone.”
Amid the frenzy over The Game Changers, Mitchell is focused on training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. When she spoke to news.com.au, she was at a training camp in Falls Creek.
While Mitchell says her new-found fame “is pretty cool”, she’s planning to keep her head down until after Tokyo.
She has plans to eventually release an E-book on the vegan lifestyle.
“I think I’ve tried to keep pretty level-headed. Obviously you gain more followers and all that stuff, but it hasn’t changed too dramatically, it’s just that people show more interest in your life,” she said.
“It’s pretty cool, but at the same time I’m so used to this lifestyle of eating a vegan or plant-based diet and training and this and that. It’s so weird people are interested in me …. It is nice to have that recognition, but at the same time I do try and remain humble. And we’ve got the Olympics next year, and that’s obviously my main focus, so I’m trying to almost shut it out until that box is ticked.”