Ballerina Misty Copeland is a force to be reckoned with and interviewing her during #DisneysNutcrackerEvent was a definite high. Her charismatic persona and addicting charm are undeniable. Combine those qualities with her dedication to her craft, she is the perfect performer to play a ballerina in the film. Known for breaking barriers in modern-day ballet, Copeland brings diversity to the age-old tale of The Nutcracker. It’s refreshing to watch. It’s also impressive to find out that Copeland didn’t start ballet dancing until she was 13 years old proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams with hard work.
Exclusive Interview with Misty Copeland
How Misty Copeland got the role of the Ballerina Princess
Copeland was first approached by Disney to play the role, allowing her to take the lead and select her own Choreographer Liam Scarlet. She called the shots, didn’t require any special training. Essentially, she was able to play herself shining a light on her incredibly talented dancing skills in the film.
“When they brought the idea to me, it was based on the Nutcracker Book,” Copeland said. “It wasn’t based on the Nutcracker Ballet so there was no ballet in this version of the story. They were like you can’t do the Nutcracker and not have Ballet in it so they kind of created this character for me, the Ballerina Princess, as a way to have ballet in it. I’m the storyteller and it’s a performance that shares the story of the four realms to Clara. It’s awesome.”
The Ballerina Princess Look
While Mackenzie Foy wore limited makeup for her role, it was a different story for the Ballerina Princess. Copeland credits an amazing team for her Ballerina Princess look. It took over two hours to create the look and make sure the wig was secure while she danced.
“I was dancing with this thing in my costume so it was crazy to have it on with the wig and all of those pins on my head for 10 hours,” Copeland said. She had only 30 minutes for a break and it was virtually impossible to take a nap in the wig.
“The process of the makeup was a lot of work,” Copeland said. “And, you have to make it look exactly the same every single day. It’s not as glamorous as people probably assume it is. It’s amazing to see how it came out and how magical it made me feel.”
On bringing diversity to ballet through the film
“I think this film couldn’t be a more amazing, platform to be introduced to the masses,” Copeland explains. “To those people that don’t feel welcome to step through the doors of the Metropolitan Opera House. It’s a place that you can dream and fantasize and so forth. Everyone goes to the movies. It’s a place you can dream and fantasize. For the cast, being as diverse as it is, is amazing.
For this next generation to see a brown ballerina in this Nutcracker film that will live on. Hopefully sooner than 30 years that you’ll be able to say, ‘”Oh, that’s what a Ballerina looks like!”‘ It’s not like, “That’s a Black Ballerina, it’s so rare.”
And that to me, is so incredible and empowering. That’s something that Disney movies have done for me like growing up.
For them to see representation, possibilities and limitless opportunities for themselves. That’s what I hope they take away.”
Bringing ballet to the forefront
I was able to ask Copeland what we can do as a society to make ballet more available to the masses?
Copeland replied, “It’s too exclusive and it’s such a difficult thing to do! I’ve been trying to do it for like my entire career. I helped to start a diversity initiative through American Ballet Theatre in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America of Project CA. I’ve worked with so many different organizations like one that is really dear to my heart, Mind Leaps in Rwanda, and allows me to see structural things that I can then bring back to the States. I think it’s about going to those communities and making them feel comfortable. It’s not about bringing in some white teachers and being like, ‘We’re gonna save you, black people.”‘
Watch Misty Copeland take your breath away in Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms
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THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS is now playing in theatres everywhere
Disclaimer: Disney is sending me on an all-expenses-paid trip to LA for the #DisneysNutcrackerEvent. All opinions are my own.