Michaela DePrince’s story is similar to that of Cinderella; she managed to escape an awful situation, and overcome her problems, to finally become a princess – sorry, we actually meant a gorgeous world-class ballerina!
At a very young age, Michaela lost her father to the civil war and her mother to sickness, thus becoming one of the 27 orphans living at a local shelter in Sierra Leone, waiting and hoping to be adopted by kind, loving parents. On the day she met her prospective mom, 4-year-old Michaela was wearing a puke stained dress, and had gotten sick with nerves, because she was really anxious.
She had been told by grown ups at the shelter that she was too ugly to be adopted, and they even referred to her as ‘devil child’, because of her vitiligo, which caused her skin to appear spotty, since this skin condition causes loss of pigment. The little girl had spirit, though, and she always retorted, saying that she didn’t care, and that she was going to be someone!
And she did become what she had always wanted; as a kid, living at the shelter, she fatefully found a magazine cover that depicted a ballerina en pointe. Little Michaela thought that she looked beautiful and happy, which is what she had always wanted for herself, too, so she kept that photo, and handed it, tattered and worn by then, to her prospective mom when she first met her!
Elaine DePrince was touched, and brought Michaela to Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to live with her family, with her 10 other children; the first thing she did, was to enroll her in ballet class. Immediately the little girl fell in love with dancing. Even though she wasn’t your typical ballerina-type girl, with her darker skin, her athletic body and her sassy attitude, Michaela persevered, and, with lots of support and love from her mom, she managed to thrive, despite the adversities, and become one of the best ballerinas in the world!
When she was 14 she starred in ‘First Position’, a documentary, which helped her win a prestigious scholarship for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, at the American Ballet Theatre in NY, and nowadays she is a member of the Dutch National Ballet, in Amsterdam! Her dreams for the future revolve around helping other young people in any way she can, for example by working with the Girl Scouts and War Child, and she eventually hopes to be able to open a school in Sierra Leone.
When she talks about how the magazine cover featuring a beautiful ballerina practically flew to her face at the perfect time, she seems to think that it was meant to be. It certainly does seem like Michaela’s fairy Godmother, or some other spiritual force, helped her in that moment, but it was her own talent, her hard work and strong spirit, as well as the love and support from her family, which helped her advance in her chosen path and become so successful!
Her touching story really moved us, and we wish her the best in everything she wishes to accomplish next!