Surely no ballerina arouses more fascination around the world than Copeland, a soloist with American Ballet Theatre who has attracted attention not simply because she is talented, beautiful and, incidentally, African American and excelling in a non-diverse field, but because she has spoken out against this lack of diversity through her bestselling memoir and voluminous interviews. The ironies she presents–with her outsider story on the one hand and her glamour and skill on the other– have struck a universal chord and turned her into a cultural icon.
[Read about Copeland’s recent “Swan Lake" performance with the Washington Ballet.]
“Misty proves that success is not about how you grow up or the color of your skin,” writes former gymnast Nadia Comaneci in Time. Comaneci, a product of an arduous training system in her native Romania, knows more than a little about overcoming challenges while making it all look easy for the public. “Her story…is the story of someone who followed her dreams and refused to give up. In that way, she is a model for all young girls.”