Featured Interview - Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland On Broadening 'Beauty' And Being Black In Ballet

September 9, 2014 3:30 AM ET

Heard on Morning Edition



On the challenges of women of color breaking into the field of professional ballet:

I don't think that every African American or Latino or, you know, have the same body type, but yes, that's been one of the excuses, I think, saying that African Americans are too muscular or just aren't lean enough, and usually they say, "Oh, they have flat feet. So they don't have the flexibility that it takes to create the line in a pointe shoe." When people meet me in person they're usually surprised at how petite I am, because there's this idea that because I'm black I should look a certain way.... They hear those words from critics saying I'm too bulky, I'm too busty, and then they meet me in person and they're like, "You look like a ballerina, I don't understand."

On influencing girls in ballet through her children's book Firebird:

[Interviewer] You go on to say more than, "Yes, you can." You say that you will succeed.
[Copeland] I think that especially young kids need to hear those words, because I think that if you say "maybe" or "it's possible," I think it's very easy for them to interpret that as "no, it's not." 

Complete and Continue