Having a large chest and a muscular frame are not good ingredients if you’re trying to make it as a ballet dancer.
Now throw in a 20-a-day Krispy Kreme addiction, depression and a broken back. Then imagine being raised under a cloud of poverty and broken marriages, along with five siblings in a seedy motel. Now imagine taking your first ballet lesson aged 13 (most girls start at five), and that your fledgling career becomes the source of a bitter public custody battle. Your chances do not look good.
Misty Copeland overcame every one of these obstacles, and much more besides, to reach the pinnacle of her profession. She is the first African American to be a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. She is a symbol of hope in a fractured society, a role model for a new generation of kids facing extraordinary pressure to look and act a certain way. She represents the very best of fame and success in modern life: an inspiring blueprint for a disenfranchised generation to follow.
“None of this is a fairy tale,” Copeland’s colleague Craig Salstein explained to the New Yorker. And it’s hard to disagree: at times, it feels more like a nightmare. It is the way she coped with the struggle that makes her journey so special.