My latest, in a series of tough women, is Misty Copeland.
Misty Copeland was one of six siblings living with a single mother in a hotel room in LA. While she was never sure there would be dinner on a given night, and although she would have to vie for her place to sleep on the floor, she was not unhappy. She was close to her siblings, doing well in school and was well liked.
At 13, she decided to join her sister in trying out for the school’s drill team. She had, of course, never had a dance or gymnastics lesson, but she most definitely had raw talent. After one astonishing audition, she was made captain of her squad, and was soon encouraged to take ballet classes at the local Boys and Girls Club. Her teacher knew that Misty was special after just one lesson.
At 17, Misty traveled with her teacher to New York, where she tried out for the summer intensive. At the end of the session she was asked to join the company.
Misty was an unlikely ballerina. She was curvy, muscular, and African American, and yet she continued to rise. She rallied back from serious injury and self doubt. She began, in time, to know that her struggle was not only to be a great ballerina for herself, but to prove to the world that despite her background, despite the fact that she had not trained in elite schools from age 3, despite her curves and her skin color, she could achieve her dreams.
Last summer, Misty Copeland became the very first African American principal female dancer in the American Ballet Theater since its inception in the early 1930s.
Watching her dance is a breathtakingly beautiful experience, as is watching her hug and speak with the young girls who wait outside the theater to catch a glimpse of her. For them, she is walking, talking, dancing proof that their dreams are attainable too.
Let nothing stop you.