Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the age of 13 at the San Pedro City Ballet. At the age of fifteen she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She then began her studies at the Lauridsen Ballet Center. Copeland has studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000.
Copeland joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, then joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001. She was appointed a Soloist in August 2007 and a Principal Dancer in August 2015, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history.
Copeland received the 2008 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts and was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She is the winner of a 2014 Dance Magazine Award. Copeland is the author of the best-selling memoir, Life in Motion and the children’s book Firebird.
Copeland has been featured in numerous publications and television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry, Vogue, Essence, Ebony, and People Magazine. Her endorsements include American Express, COACH, and Diet Dr. Pepper. In 2014, Under Armour launched Copeland as one of the faces of their “I Will What I Want” campaign.