The Success Diaries: Misty Copeland

Dear Misty:

The world of classical ballet is where you know you want to belong. You are hopeful, full of dreams, and excited to potentially perform on the very same stages as the famous ballerinas who, until this point, you’ve only read about.

As you go along this journey, I want you to always remember this feeling of excitement. I want you to hold tight to your dreams, especially when they seem so far away and unattainable.  Classical ballet is a world of tradition filled with artists overcoming extraordinary obstacles in their careers every day. The road will, at times, be difficult, disappointing and uncertain.

But Misty, be patient. Know that your moments of doubts and fears, not feeling that you belong, will only push you to be your best. Following your heart is the right thing to do. Believe in your instincts and accept the support being offered to you. Having a strong support system around you will lift you up when you think there is nowhere to go but down. That circle of love and empowerment will keep you going when you believe that you’re at the point of no return.

I would not be honest with you if I did not tell you that there will be hard times ahead. What you’re experiencing now, the learning curve of getting to know ballet, understanding everything that being a classical ballerina entails, pales in comparison when you’re told that you’re not good enough, not lean enough, not deserving of certain roles. In those times, you must have the inner strength to persevere. Know that you love what you do and that you were born to do it.

Do not let others’ words of hate deter you. You are unique and beautiful. Stay open and don’t lose your inner light. Own who you are and be proud. One day, not so long from now, you will blossom into a Firebird and Swan. And regardless of what a few naysayers may believe, you’ve worked hard and earned it every step of the way.

Love Always,


In 2007, Misty Copeland made history by becoming the third African American female soloist and the first in two decades at the American Ballet Theatre.  Born in Kansas City, MO, and raised in San Pedro, CA, Misty took her first ballet class at 13, an advanced age to begin this traditional art form.

At age 15, Misty won first place in the prestigious Los Angeles Spotlight awards, prompting the LA Times to name her the Best Young Dancer in the greater Los Angeles area. Her roles in the American Ballet Theatre include: Firebird – The Firebird, Gamzatti – La Bayadere, Muse – Duo Concertant, and Gulnare – Le Corsaire, just to name a few!  Find out more about Misty at!

Photo credit: Gregg Delman

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