Twelve-year-old Scholastic Kid Reporter Zhoriél Tapo got the chance of a lifetime—she interviewed prima ballerina, author, actress, and Scholastic News cover star Misty Copeland live on Instagram! During the conversation, they discussed challenges Misty has overcome, her advice for young dancers, and memorable moments from her groundbreaking career.
Below, Zhoriél shares a firsthand account of her experience interviewing Misty Copeland:
“Dance your dance, and live your dreams.” That’s what Misty Copeland advises young readers in her children’s book, Bunheads.
Misty became the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in 2015. I had the honor of interviewing her on Scholastic’s Instagram Live on February 1 (watch it below). The interview kicked off Scholastic’s Black History Month celebration!
Misty began her dancing career at the age of 13, which is late for a classical ballet dancer, she told me. In the spring of 2021, she will celebrate her 20th year with the ABT. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot for the ballet world, Misty is looking forward to performing in front of live audiences again.
I was thrilled to interview Misty because of all the amazing things she has accomplished. In addition to being an author and a ballet dancer, she is also an actress. With my excitement, there was a little bit of nervousness. That feeling went away as soon as Misty joined the interview because she was so welcoming and kind. She was excited to see that I had copies of the Scholastic News issues (Grade 1 and Grade 2) featuring her and a copy of Bunheads.
The interview with Misty taught me a lot. She didn’t have it easy as a child, but she followed her heart and dreams. A pre-COVID day in her life meant early starts and late endings… and doing it all again the next day. She practices a lot to make sure that her performances are as close to perfect as possible. While she does not really consider herself a trailblazer, she wants to be a positive role model for Black and Brown girls and boys all over the world.
This experience helped remind me of the many contributions and accomplishments of Black people, whether it’s in the arts, academics, or athletics. Black History Month is now an annual celebration due to the vision of historian and author Carter G. Woodson in 1926.
There are so many people worthy of being celebrated this month, and I’m glad that Scholastic decided to start with Misty Copeland! I hope other kids and adults learn from our conversation that whatever your dream is, never give up on it. There will not always be good days, but if there is something you really want to do, go for it. Even if it hurts sometimes.