Misty Copeland BY ELLE KIRKSEY

Early Life

Misty Danielle Copeland was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 10, 1982. She constantly moved around with her mom and 3 older siblings and two younger siblings. When Misty was 2, her mom left her dad, Doug Copeland, and she did not see Doug again until age 22. When the family moved around, she lived in Bellflower, California, San Pedro in Los Angeles, California, and Gardena California. They usually moved to wherever her mom's new boyfriend lived. Misty did like her stepfather Robert, who was kind to her and her siblings before he became abusive. Misty has always had an interest in dance which started as an interest in gymnastics. Copeland describes herself as an anxious kid and found relief in performance on the stage. She used to choreograph dances to songs by Mariah Carey and do flips all around her house. She was captain of the drill team and her natural grace and ability came to the attention of her drill coach, Elizabeth Cantine who was trained in classical ballet. Elizabeth referred her to Cynthia Bradley and Misty ended up taking a ballet class at the boys and girls club.

Misty was a natural ballerina and went en pointe after just 3 months.


Misty Copeland went to Point Fermin Elementary School when she lived in San Pedro. She went to Dana Middle School just like her older sister Erica and also became captain of the drill team and they won two state competitions. She started ballet at the Boys and Girls club after school and impressed Cynthia Bradley with her abilities and flexibility despite starting later than most dancers at age thirteen. After 3 months, she was already strong and advanced enough to start en pointe when it takes most dancers over a year. When Copeland attended San Pedro Highschool, she drew a lot of viewers for her dance shows. She studied dance at San Pedro Dance Center. When Misty was at middle and high school age, her mom wanted to move her kids to a motel in Gardena and Misty would have to give up dance. However, Bradley wanted Misty to continue to study and Misty herself was very reluctant to leave. Copeland ended up part of an agreement where she lived with Cynthia Bradley during the week and her mom and siblings on the weekends. Later on there was a custody battle leading Misty to try to get emancipated. She did not attend college, but was dancing with ABT at age 19. Her role models were Paloma Herrera, a fellow ABT dancer, and Cindy Bradley who gave her the kind of love and attention her mother never could.

Adult Life

Misty Copeland is married to Olu Evans they have been married since July 31, 2016 and do not have any children. Copeland has only ever been serious about dance. She attended workshops at the Sanfrancisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and Harlem City Ballet. She also attended a summer intensive with ABT and was asked to join the company by the end. She had to finish school but joined the corps de ballet in 2000. Recently, Misty has been modeling and designing her own line of dance wear. She has written 3 book of her own, a biography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, a children's book about racial equality, Firebird, and a health and fitness guide for dancers, Ballerina Body. Copeland achieved fame for being a very talented and beautiful soloist and dancer through many accomplishments. These include:

  1. 2000- Danced the Pas de Deux in Sleeping Beauty
  2. 2006- Acknowledged for her performance in Gisele.
  3. 2007- Made a soloist at ABT, first African American woman at the time.
  4. 2012- Danced the role of the Firebird, an honor.
  5. 2013- Performed as the Queen in Don Quixote.
  6. 2014- Odette/Odile in ABT's first production of Swan Lake.
  7. 2015- First African American to become a Principal Dancer in ABT history.
  8. 2015- Played the role of Ivy Smith in her Broadway debut of On the Town.


Misty Copeland has shown that you can have many obstacles thrown in your path, but you can come out better because of it and still achieve your dreams. She has shown that there isn’t a certain age you can start dancing, as long as you love it enough. She has not changed dance itself, but she has changed the way people portray dancers and gotten rid of the appearance stereotype. She has proved that the color of your skin shouldn't matter and that it is possible to I think it is amazing that she overcame racial discrimination, self doubt and insecurities, family trouble, and injuries and has become not just a dancing role model but a personal one.

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