Misty Copeland has been breaking down barriers since she was thirteen years old. Her determination is inspirational and she is living proof that if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams. 2015 was also a big year for Misty. She was listed as one of the world’s most influential people in the TIME 100 Most Influential People, and finally achieved her dream of becoming the first African-American woman to be named a principal in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theater. And as if that weren’t enough, she is also coming out with a reality TV show about dancers competing to make it to the top.
Here is everything you need to know about ballet superstar Misty Copeland:
On being a prodigy:
Most dancers start at 5 or 6, but Misty only started dancing at 13. Misty is considered a prodigy, but is also proof that dedication and hard work pays off.
On breaking barriers:
As if she hasn’t blew your mind already enough, Misty also overcame being shockingly short for a ballerina, standing at only 5’2″. She proves you can do anything if you set your mind to it.
On being the first African-American to become a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater:
“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level. At the same time, it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here — and I’m constantly saying that — it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.” Check out an interview about it here:
On how she started dancing:
When she was a kid Misty would choreograph dances to Mariah Carey songs for fun. She was eventually chosen to be the captain of her drill team at her middle school, where the teacher in charge suggested she start doing ballet at the Boys and Girls club. The ballet instructor, Cindy Bradley, recognized Misty’s talent and took her under her wing. During this time, Misty’s home life was deteriorating and her mom was forced to move the family into a motel. She agreed to let Misty move into Cindy’s home so she could focus on studying ballet.
On her difficult home life:
When Misty was fifteen, her mother demanded she move back home. A legal battle began as Misty tried to get legal emancipation from her mother and remain in Cindy’s care. The request was eventually dropped and Misty moved back to be with her mother. She continued to study ballet and became the dancer we love today.
On her dedication:
Misty has a lot going on and must have an insanely busy schedule, but she doesn’t let it take away from her dancing. “I’ve never sacrificed a ballet class, I’ve never sacrificed a rehearsal, and that will NEVER happen. It’s not a hard balance. The dance is always first.”
On coming back from injury:
Broken bones can be a death sentence to a dancer’s career. Misty had to have surgery in 2012 to repair stress fractures on her leg, but she hasn’t let it stop her from dancing. She even went so far as to keep it from the public, saying “We’re not MEANT to expose those things. We’re on stage presenting this beautiful, effortless experience for the audience.”
On being in a Prince video:
One morning in 2009, Misty was waking up when she got a phone call. Prince was calling her to ask if she could be in his music video “Crimson and Clover.” She flew to LA the next day to shoot, and then got to go on tour with him.
On teaching Jimmy Kimmel how to dance:
“Ballet was born in Italy more than 600 years ago and today it died.” Basically Misty teaching Jimmy Kimmel ballet went exactly as you would expect it to. Check out the LMAO video here: