Misty Copeland

Overcoming Obstacles

Early Years

Misty Copeland was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 10, 1982. She was the fourth of six siblings born to her single mom. They had little money so the whole family lived in a motel room.

It's Just the Beginning

After moving to California at a young age, Misty began dancing at her local Boys and Girls Club at age thirteen. That is considered extremely late in the world of ballet. Immediately, her teachers could tell that there was something special about the young prodigy. She was able to dance en pointe after a extremely short time of training.

Instant Struggles

Misty instantly had career-altering struggles. She was told multiple time that she just did not have "the right body for ballet." Scholarships and programs rejected her because she lacked the correct feet, Achilles tendon, turnout, torso length, and bust. She was also turned down because she was "too old to be considered" at the age of thirteen.
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The Start of Something Great

When she was fifteen, Misty won first in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She began studying at the San Francisco Ballet School and received a full scholarship to attend American Ballet Theater's Summer Intensive. Misty was named American Ballet Theater's National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000.

Joining ABT

Misty Copeland became a part of American Ballet Theater's Studio Company in September of 2000. She then became a member of the corps de ballet the next year. Copeland rose to the soloist in 2007. This made her the second African American woman to hold this position but the first in two whole decades


Misty was promoted to principal dancer in 2015 making her the first African American woman in the ABT to be promoted to that position. She is one of the faces of Under Armor's I WILL WHAT I WANT campaign. She spends her time giving back and helped others like herself who want to pursue a dream against the worst odds.
Misty Copeland - I WILL WHAT I WANT
Misty has become an inspiration to many. She once said "the path to success is not as fixed and inflexible as you think." She has become the person she was today against impossible odds. She has taught us all to follow our dreams and to break societies standards that may hold us back.