Celebrity Interviews / Disney

Exclusive Interview with Misty Copeland as The Ballerina Princess

Updated November 4, 2018

Exclusive Interview with Misty Copeland as The Ballerina Princess

Misty Copeland plays the ballerina princess in the new film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. While she has no speaking parts in the film, her dancing tells the story. She started late at the age of 13 as a ballet dancer but that didn’t stop her rise to stardom as she became the first African-American to be promoted to a principal dancer.

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Now at the age of 36, a film behind her, 2 Barbie dolls and several books later, she is an inspiration to all ballet dancers around the world no matter how late you start out. I had the chance to chat with her about her role in the movie as the ballerina and this is what she had to say.

Getting the Role

Misty Copeland: “They reached out to me. I’m not an actress but there was a connection being that it was the Nutcracker. They knew nothing about ballet so they let me choose my choreographer which I selected Liam Scarlet, whom I’ve worked with before. The film was not based on the Nutcracker ballet but more of the book and they agreed that you can’t do a Nutcracker movie without ballet so they created this Ballerina Princess character for me.”

On Having Barbie Dolls Created After Her

She has not one but 2 Barbie dolls created after her. The first doll wears a costume inspired by Misty Copeland’s performance of “The Firebird” and the second doll is inspired by The Nutcracker and the Four Realms wearing a white dress with sheer overlay and silver-sequined design on the front bodice.

Misty Copeland: “The second one came along so fast like before I knew it. The first one was like a lot of work and I was very involved. I made it very clear that I wanted it to be a true representation of me and what I stand for like just don’t take Barbie’s body and like paint her brown. I wanted her to have boobs, thigh muscles, calves, her nose to be wider than Barbie, and the lips to be full. They kept coming back to me and I was like, the boobs aren’t big enough. So then we padded the bra for the Firebird Barbie.” 

“For the second Barbie, we already had the mold so all they had to do was put a white wig on her, a dress and they changed the makeup a little bit. It’s so incredible and something that I loved my whole life. I mean, my Mom had to take the Barbies away from me cause she was like it’s not OK at this age.  It’s amazing to have a brown Barbie that somebody can see themselves tied in.”

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright /

Message to Young Girls

Misty Copeland: “I think that this film couldn’t be a more amazing platform for LA to be introduced to the masses, to those people that maybe, don’t feel welcome to step through the doors of the Metropolitan Opera House. The cast, being as diverse as it is, is amazing. And for this next generation to see a Brown Ballerina in this Nutcracker film that will live on and they’ll be able to say, Oh, that’s what a Ballerina looks like. But it’s not like that’s a Black Ballerina, it’s so rare. And that to me, is so incredible and empowering and I think that’s something that Disney Movies have done for me like growing up. I want them to see representation and possibilities and limitless opportunities for themselves. That’s what I hope they take away.”

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright /

Advice to Those Starting Dance Late

Misty Copeland: “I would say first of all do your research.  I think like the majority of the greatest Ballet Dancers all started after the age of 13, which is kind of crazy. And I think that it’s just proof that it’s not about that. I understand the reason that they like to start you out before you hit puberty so that they can really mold the body and becomes a second nature. You know, cause it’s so detailed like the ballet type move, that once you get to the level of a Professional, there are so many other things you’re thinking about that you can’t be thinking about the technique of it.”

“You’re learning Choreography for up to 10 Ballets in a week that you’re performing. You know, you’re growing as an Artist becoming a Character. There’s just so much to think about, that’s why we start so young. But it’s possible. I think that it’s about what you do with the time that you’re in the studio like taking 3 to 4 classes a day, just trying to like catch up. I think with the right support and the right will and push it’s possible to be anything you want to be.”

If you want to see Misty Copeland perform the American Ballet Theatre will be performing The Nutcracker at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on the following dates in December. Head on over here for more details.

Sunday, December 16 at 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 19 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 22 at 7 p.m.

About the Movie

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.

Take the entire family to see THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS now playing in theaters everywhere!

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