Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland is a ballet dancer probably best known for being the second African-American female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. She rose to ballet stardom even though she didn’t take her first ballet class until she was 13. (She did, however, like to choreograph moves to Mariah Carey songs when she was a girl.)

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Misty Copeland is a mix of African-American, German and Italian ancestry.

 

Though born in Kansas City, Missouri, she was raised in San Pedro, California. She wrote in her memoir “Life in Motion: an Unlikely Ballerina”: “I came from a San Pedro, California, family that didn't always have enough food to eat, let alone money to spend on a hobby, and it wasn't until I was 13 years old that I could even take my first ballet class.” She admitted she was pushed into it. “I was just a very nervous, fearful child, afraid of anything new.”

 

Related: The 30 Hottest Women in California.

 

Per the New York Post, Misty Copeland also spent part of her teen years living in a single motel room with her single mother and five siblings, hungry and afraid. “I had no introduction to the arts in any way – definitely not the fine arts. Survival was our Number 1 priority, not extracurriculars, or a career.”

 

At 14, however, she was homeschooled in order to devote more time to ballet. At 15, she won first place in the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards. She then went on to study at the San Francisco Ballet School. She said, “For young African-Americans to feel that they have a chance to see a brown face on the stage…I think that visual does so much.”

 

Misty Copeland hit puberty late – at 19 – and subsequently developed breasts. “All of a sudden, my body started changing. It was terrifying.”

 

In 2013, however, she was diagnosed with a fracture and got a plate screwed into her tibia and bone marrow extracted from her hip and injected into the fractures.

 

Misty Copeland wrote about her career: “I still worry, far more than I should, about what the ballet world thinks of me—whether I will ever be accepted and seen as a well-rounded artist deserving of respect. Or will I forever be "the black ballerina," an oddity who doesn't quite compare? But in my moments of clarity I envision all the people whose lives have been touched by my story, who upon seeing my journey know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed.”

 

Misty Copeland is currently single and resides in New York City.

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