It’s a dream come true for Misty Copeland to star in the Disney adaptation Nutcracker And The Four Realms. Misty, who danced in the classic ballet when she was 13, calls it a “full circle” moment. She is the brown ballerina she had always hoped to see.
We caught up with the principal dancer and spoke to her about her pivotal role in the film, the mentee who reminds her of herself and her unconventional holiday tradition with her husband.
“There’s a brown ballerina in the nutcracker film and that’s going to live on forever,” she said during a candid chat at a Nutcracker And The Four Realms pop-up in NYC. “People can look at that and be like, that’s what a ballerina looks like.”
Misty’s character, the Ballerina, was added into the film to incorporate the integral dance sequence through which we learn about the four realms.
“It’s Keira Knightley and Mackenzie Foy and they’re all sitting there watching me perform a ballet within the movie and through my movement of the ballet, I’m telling the stories of the realms. So, you know, the land of the sweets and the flowers and the snow. And then there’s like the dark fourth real,” she explained. “It’s a small part of the film, but it links everything together and then there’s like a fun little bit that we have at the end of the credits.”
The nutcracker is a tradition among many families and Misty knows a thing or two about that since she’s created her own traditions over the years.
“I’ve always been someone that really enjoyed the holidays. When I first moved to New York City, everyone would come to my place for Thanksgiving and Christmas and like I would make everything,” she gushed.
Misty’s holiday tradition looks a little different these days. “My holiday traditions with my husband is, ‘Let’s get out of the city.’ I don’t want to be in the snow or the cold. We’re going to the beach and that’s become our tradition.”
Misty currently mentors a Black girl at the American ballet. “There’s a young girl at American Ballet Theater, Erica Loll. She’s like my little baby sister. It’s amazing to have someone with me, I was alone for so long. It’s incredible to be able to lend my experiences and help to guide this next generation and hopefully not have the same troubles that I had or make the same mistakes or just know how to navigate,” she shared.
“We actually met when she was 11-years-old and I’ve been mentoring her on and off since then and now she’s in the company. Her locker next to me.”
Misty grew up to be an iconic dancer, but she wasn’t always as confident.
“She is so much more confident than I was at that age and I tell her that all the time. Being one of six kids and being such an introvert and not really being nurtured in a way that like I didn’t have communication skills. I was just like this weird little thing that like kind of was stunted in my growth,” she admitted. “And then I went into the ballet world and it was like I just started to blossom.”
Misty continues to kick down walls and break barriers as a Black ballerina, which is no small feat so she stays motivated through a simple mantra.
“All you can do is wake up, work hard and stay grounded and keep people around you trust and love you and just keep living like we’re all people, humans more or better than anyone else. And it’s just like, I’m grateful to have these opportunities.
See Nutcracker And The Four Realms in theaters November 2.