If you haven’t seen Ballet Soloist Misty Copeland’s new video for Under Armour, you should. It’s inspiring and beautiful, and it’s gone totally viral thanks to Copeland’s determination in the face of rejection. In honor of Copeland’s grit and grace, we’ve collected a few things we think you should know about her.
1. She didn’t start dancing until she was 13. That’s 6 years later than most ballet professionals.
2. She proved you don’t have to be “average” to be exceptional. Copeland is 5 foot 2, which is two inches shorter than the average ballet dancer, and also proved an obstacle to her dancing career that she had to overcome.
3. She didn’t let the naysayers bring her down. Though the rejection letter in the video isn’t one that Copeland got, she told Time Magazine, it is similar to feedback she got. “Like many women, I was told that I wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t succeed, but I will myself to where I am now,” Copeland said. “I think that’s a message that resonates with all women. Success isn’t handed to us: We earn it.”
4. She’s overcome incredible obstacles to fulfill her dream. When she discovered ballet, she explained in her new memoir, she was living in a motel room with her single mother and five siblings, sleeping on the floor.
5. She’s a fast learner. It only took her three months to start dancing en pointe, a skill that usually takes years of training. She was dancing professionally within a year of her first class.
6. She’s a ground-breaker. She is only the third black female soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theater. Since 2008, she has been the only black female member of the American Ballet Theater company.
7. . . .And an inspiration for young women. Copeland wants to be a role model for other women striving towards their goals. She told The Huffington Post: “I hope that they see someone who overcame adversity to beat all the odds to do what she loves and what ultimately saved her life.”