Lev Radin / Shutterstock.com
  • Faith: Christian
  • Career: Dancer
  • Birthday:  September 10, 1982

Misty Copeland is a professional ballet dancer who, in 2015, became the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.

Born on September 10, 1982, in Kansas City, Missouri, Misty Copeland experienced a tumultuous childhood marked by financial struggles and familial instability. Raised in San Pedro, California, she discovered ballet at the age of 13, a relatively late start in the world of professional dance. Despite the late beginning, Copeland’s innate talent and dedication quickly caught the attention of instructors.

Copeland’s journey in ballet was meteoric. She joined the San Pedro City Ballet’s free classes, where her extraordinary potential became evident. At 15, she won first place in the prestigious Los Angeles Spotlight Awards, propelling her onto the radar of ballet professionals. At 17, Copeland’s career accelerated when she joined the ABT’s Studio Company, a stepping stone to the main company.

Her ascent in the ballet world was not without obstacles. Copeland faced criticism and discrimination due to her race and physique. However, her resilience and unwavering determination propelled her forward. In 2015, Copeland made history by becoming the first African-American female principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history, a groundbreaking achievement that transcended the boundaries of race and tradition.

Copeland’s repertoire is as diverse as it is impressive. From classical roles like Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" to contemporary pieces that showcase her versatility and emotional depth, she has captivated audiences worldwide with her exquisite technique and electrifying stage presence. Her performances have earned her accolades and awards, cementing her status as one of the most celebrated dancers of her generation.

Beyond the spotlight, Copeland’s personal life has been marked by challenges and triumphs. She has been vocal about her experiences with body image issues, emphasizing the importance of self-acceptance and body positivity. Copeland’s advocacy extends beyond the realm of dance, as she uses her platform to promote diversity, inclusion, and access to the arts for underprivileged communities.

In 2016, Copeland married attorney Olu Evans, finding love and support amidst the demands of her career. Their relationship serves as a source of strength and stability in Copeland’s life, allowing her to navigate the pressures of the ballet world with grace and resilience.

Misty Copeland's Religious Beliefs

Copeland was born and raised in (lapsed) Christian household. She credits her spirituality with providing solace, strength, and direction in times of uncertainty. Copeland’s faith has been a guiding force, anchoring her amidst the whirlwind of success and adversity. In interviews, she speaks openly about the importance of prayer, gratitude, and humility in her life and career.

Despite the arduous journey to the top, Copeland said, “God made me to dance.”

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