Michaela DePrince’s journey from war-torn Sierre Leone to center stage is nothing short of miraculous. Rebels killed her father when she was three years old. Days later, her mother died of starvation.
As a toddler, she discovered a photograph of a smiling ballerina blown up against the gate of her orphanage. Captivated by the woman’s tutu and pointe shoes, Michaela held on to the photo, and began to dream of a better life.
Destiny intervened when an American couple adopted her. After relocating to States, Michaela began training with The Rock School in Pennsylvania.
Some ballet instructors deterred her, citing her muscular frame and speckled brown skin as anathema to the ballet world. Michaela pressed on.
She rose to fame in 2011 when a film crew chronicled her entry in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne ballet competition for the award-winning documentary First Position. After graduating from American Ballet Theater’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, she performed with the Dance Theatre of Harlem for a year before joining the Dutch National Ballet.