Days after her resume was updated to include the history-making promotion to principal of the renowned American Ballet Theater- the first black woman to achieve such an honor- Misty Copeland rounds out her extracurricular with a lead role in Broadway play, On The Town.
Copeland has been a headline mainstay with good news after good news, historic advancements of the variety which not only enhance her own personal career, but also the general course of history and the passionate minds of millions of inspired onlookers.
Her accomplishments were preceded by a series of achievements and inspiring acclamation that had already made Misty Copeland a household name. She became a role model, an embodiment of perseverance, to many by speaking openly about the adversity she faced as a dancer who was countered with obstacles inherent of an underprivileged background and physical stereotypes that varied distinctly from the prototypical ballerina.
Her journey exceeded the intense training and perseverant athleticism that her peers endured. Athletes are notorious for defying odds, overcoming obstacles and strengthening in the midst of adversity; it’s part of the territory. But Copeland, in addition to the athletic obstacles her counterparts faced, also overcame stigmas against her body type and her race— an underprivileged black girl with a curvy body type who started dancing a decade later in her childhood than most of her crawl-to-plié counterparts.
Despite spending most of her childhood living in a motel with her mother and brother, Copeland found her way to a basketball court upon which she partook in her first ballet class.
From her 60 minutes interview:
“Once I was a part of it, I couldn’t get enough of it. So, every day I came into the ballet studio, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to learn something new today. What is it going to be?’ And just soaking it all up. I just never experienced anything like that.”
Her persistence and ambition has been rewarded ten-fold, earning her a bevy of hard-earned and well-deserved recognition. She has been featured on 60 minutes and the cover of Time as one of the most influential people of 2015 and co-authored two books.
Copeland is poised to become an icon, a modern day legend, a compelling picture of adversity overcome, her story a resounding statement of triumph that rewards not only the progress of her own career, not only the ballet world, but people around the world who perhaps don’t fit the exact shoes that their passion sets before them. It is a statement that if those predetermined shoes don’t fit, well, then bring your own and then dance your ass off.
Misty Copeland for Under Armour