Once An Abused Orphan, She Became A World Famous Ballerina

ballet shoes
Graciella Ye'Tsunami
November 21, 2023

The orphanage in Sierra Leone had 27 children. Children were referred to by number, implying their likelihood of adoption,  with 27 being least likely. 

She was Number 27,but most days they called her "devil’s child.”

Orphanage leaders said she wouldn’t get adopted because of her vitiligo, a condition causing loss of pigmentation in one’s skin. But her life was about to change.

A gust of wind blew a magazine smack in her face.  On the cover was a beautiful ballerina. Her heart sang.

Soon after, she was adopted. She handed the magazine cover to her adoptive mother as if to say, “That’s going to be me!”

Today she’s known as Michaela DePrince, one of the few classically trained Black ballerinas in the world. She’s a member of the Dutch National Ballet, and dreams of opening a school in Sierra Leone.

DePrince faced harsh racism within ballet. Her mother dyed numerous costumes to match her dark-skin, and multiple instructors told her she wasn’t “right” for ballet. 

Reflecting on her journey, Deprince stated, "Whenever people called me things, I would say, 'I don't care. I'm going to be someone.'"

Like DePrince, we must know our worth. You’re enough as you are.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: