New York, NY – Around this time last year, the Oscar-winning movie Black Swan had the nation buzzing about ballet. Natalie Portman’s portrayal of ‘Swan Queen’ Nina Sayers won the actress accolades, but may have reinforced many of the negative perceptions the public has about the industry.
Enter Misty Copeland.
The stunning 29-year-old is a star in the national ballet scene — and, because of her talents, even caught the eye of musical legend Prince who asked her to perform with him on his most recent tour.
Copeland is the first black female soloist for the American Ballet Theater in two decades. She took her first ballet class at a local Boys and Girls Club when she was 13 and will have a principal role in her company’s production of The Firebird, which premieres next March.
Copeland recently spent time speaking to young girls in Black Girls Rock!, a non-profit dedicated to empowering young women of color.
“I think it’s so important to have mentors,” said Copeland, who grew up in California. “It’s just so important to see that it’s possible and to see that someone can make it. Now that I’m here, I can set an example and hopefully make things easier for the next black [ballet] dancer.”
As a part of theGrio’s ‘Living Forward’ series, Copeland spoke with Todd Johnson about her life on tour and what she’s doing to inspire young black girls to follow in her footsteps.