Beautiful Black Ballerina from Africa pirouettes her way to stardom.
I had the great fortune to catch an ABC New special tonight profiling Michaela DePrince. She is a ballerina from Africa who has been grabbing attention in many different arenas.
For example, Michaela was recently featured on ABC’s popular Dancing with the Stars show. She is also one of the stars of a brand new documentary entitled “First Position,” which charts her journey to stardom in the world of ballet via the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.
Despite being a very talented black ballerina, Michaela has had to suffer through many challenges on her way to this ABC special, documentary and Dancing with the Stars.
Her parents were shot in war-torn Sierra Leone. She was called a “Devil Child” by her peers when living at an orphanage in Africa. Her vitiligo (a condition that makes dark skin appear to have white blotches) caused her to stand out from the rest of the children.
By chance, a family from Cherry Hill, PA adopted her along with another African girl and brought her over to a better life in America where she decided to pursue her career as a ballerina. Her adoptive mother, Elaine DePrince, witnessed first-hand the prejudices that her daughter had to endure as a black ballet star —attendees at ballet events made comments in her presence, saying that a black girl wouldn’t be able to get on her tippy toes and command a show like the other girls.
And of course Michaela has proven the naysayers wrong. In addition to her television and movie appearances, she is now a student at the Jacqueline Onassis School at the American Ballet Theater was offered a position at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
She is thankful for her opportunities, new found fame and the ability to escape a troubled past.
The documentary “First Position” opens in theaters on May 11, 2012.