Lifetime’s Blood Sweat and Cheer: True Story of Wendy Anne Brown

‘Blood, Sweat, and Cheer’ revolves around a single mother who joins a high school cheerleading team to live out her unfulfilled dreams of school. Renee is a divorcee with a teenage daughter who regrets not having had the chance to enjoy her high school days. When an opportunity presents itself, Renee enrolls in a new school under her daughter’s identity and aims to join its cheerleading team. Renee’s resolve turns dangerous as she resorts to any means at her disposal to get what she wants. Directed by Traci Hays, the Lifetime dark comedy has such an intriguing plot that it warrants an investigation into the inspiration behind its narrative.

Blood, Sweat, and Cheer Is Loosely Based on a True Story

The Lifetime movie is loosely based on the true story of Wendy Anne Brown, a 33-year-old Wisconsin woman who stole her daughter’s identity and went on to join a high school cheerleading team. Her story serves as a base for ‘Blood, Sweat, and Cheer,’ which turns its premise into a dark comedy with an increasingly over-the-top narrative penned by Barbara Zagrodnik.

On September 2, 2008, Brown walked into Ashwaubenon High School, having snipped her hair in bangs, wearing a pink hoodie, and adopting her teen daughter’s name, Jaimi. She spoke with a lilted voice and seemed shy. While some staff members thought she looked a little older, her mannerisms were those of a young girl. Before school was set to begin, Brown applied for the cheerleading squad and went to the trials. She got along well with the other aspirants and even attended a pool party at the coach’s house.

Back at her apartment, Brown squealed with excitement as she received a call from the coach confirming her selection for the cheerleading squad. She attended the first day of school with a spring in her step and was given her own locker, which contained her green cheerleader uniform with golden trim. However, her fairytale soon came to an end as she was arrested for an unrelated fraud she had committed a while back.

When school truancy investigators found her in jail, they questioned her regarding the identity theft of her daughter. She said she wanted to be a cheerleader and get her high school degree because she had no childhood and was trying to regain a part of her life she missed. Brown reportedly had a traumatic past of bullying and lost her high school years due to a teen pregnancy. She gave birth to her first child at 17 and got pregnant again three months later. By the time she entered her thirties, Brown had a record of identity theft and fraud and couldn’t keep a job. Her teen daughter lived with relatives in a different city.

When being evaluated by a psychiatrist in court for the identity fraud case, she was reported to have post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar II disorder, and two personality disorders. According to the expert, Brown had genuinely started to believe that if she were to go to high school, she could get a fresh start in life, and her unfulfilled dream of being a cheerleader played into the delusion.

Both the defense and the prosecution came together and sought to get Brown the help she needed. The judge agreed that going to prison would be detrimental for Brown, and she was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. After spending a few weeks waiting in jail, Brown was transferred to the Winnebago mental health facility in Wisconsin for three years. Today, Brown is a free woman who has left her past of petty crime behind her, and hopes for reconciliation with her grown-up daughter.

When asked about the reason she chose to make this film, Traci Hays said, “I was drawn to this campy, over-the-top, self-aware, dark comedy because of its twists and turns that follow a flawed and fierce female lead with something to prove. It’s a nostalgic classic high school tale reminiscent of films like Heathers, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, and Clueless.” ‘Blood, Sweat, and Cheer’ takes the true story of Wendy Anne Brown as its premise and builds upon it with its own bizarre twists and turns in Lifetime’s signature style.

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