Ballerina and Under Armour “Woman of Will” Misty Copeland made headlines and history again today when the American Ballet Theatre named her a principal dancer. She’s the first black woman to join those lofty ranks in the company’s 75-year history.
Copeland is best known for overcoming major odds, not just because of her race in a predominantly white art form, but also because she she started taking ballet classes at 13 years old — considered quite an advanced age to begin training in the ballet world.
Copeland joined the American Ballet Theatre in 2000 and was named a soloist in 2007. In 2014, she was named to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and also landed on Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2015. And if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Copeland is a best-selling author with her memoir, “Life in Motion,” and children’s book, “Firebird.”
Copeland has become a cultural phenomenon thanks to her powerful solos that draw big crowds and her trailblazing career in dance. She’s also been very vocal about the changing face of ballet and the opportunities for others in the field.
Just last year, Copeland signed with Under Armour and became well-known in pop culture as the face of the brand’s “Women of Will” campaign, which also includes other well-known names, from Lindsey Vonn to Gisele Bündchen. Her campaign for UA’s relaunched women’s line, which outlined her struggles and successes in ballet, went viral instantly.
Last December, Copeland joined Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank at the Footwear News Achievement Awards celebrating Under Armour’s successful year. Giving a public face to ballet and the challenges of the form — as well as positioning dance as a sport and dancers as athletes — was something Copeland was particularly excited about. She told Plank that he might not realize it, but “[he’s] changing the ballet world.”
Clearly, Misty Copeland has, too. The athletic brand shared its excitement about her promotion today, sending out this tweet to its powerhouse partner.
— Under Armour Women (@UAWomen) June 30, 2015
You can see her original campaign below.