I was invited on an all expenses paid trip to cover #DisneysNutcrackerEvent. All opinions are my own.
I had such a great time while I was in LA for Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms World Premiere. One of the highlights of the trip was having the chance to sit down with the beautiful and inspirational Misty Copeland who dances beautifullly in the movie.
“Misty Danielle Copeland is an American ballet dancer for American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the United States. On June 30, 2015, Copeland became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history.“-Wikepedia
How did you get involved in Disney’s Nutcracker movie?
They reached out to me which was kind of shocking. I’m not an Actress but I understand the Nutcracker connection. It was like a really organic fit and they were just really organic about letting me kind of take the lead. They’re like, we don’t know Ballet, this isn’t our world so teach us, like you’re gonna have the right team. They allowed me to choose a Choreographer so I selected Liam Scarlet. He’s a Choreographer in Residence for the Royal Ballet in London and I had worked with him before.
When they brought the idea to me, it was based on the Nutcracker Book. It wasn’t based on the Nutcracker Ballet so there was no Ballet in this version of the story. So 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 just as a way to have Ballet in it. And I’m kind of the storyteller so it’s like a performance would be there to kind of share the story of the four realms and tell it to Clara.
How does it feel to now have 2 Barbie dolls of you?
The second one came along so fast like before I knew it, I was like Oh OK, it’s here. Oh my God. There’s another one. But the first one was a lot of work, 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. Just don’t take Barbie’s body and paint her brown. You know, I want her to have boobs. I want her to have like thigh muscles and calves. And I want her nose to be wider and the lips to be full.
So we already had the mold when we did this one for my Character in the Disney film so all they had to do was put a white wig on her and put a little dress on her and they changed the makeup a little bit but it is so incredible, something that I loved my whole life. It’s amazing to have a brown Barbie that somebody can see themselves tied in.
What kind of a message do you want girls to take away from this movie?
I think that this film couldn’t be a more amazing platform for ballet to kind of be introduced to the masses, to those people that maybe don’t feel welcome to step through the doors of the Metropolitan Opera House. That 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. And then for this next generation to see a Brown Ballerina in this Nutcracker film that will live on. Hopefully sooner than maybe 30 years that you’ll be able to say like 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 just so incredible and empowering and I think that’s something that Disney Movies have done for me growing up. For them to see representation and possibilities and like limitless opportunities for themselves. That’s what I hope they take away.
Did you have to do any special training for your role in the film?
No just my normal ballet because I have no speaking parts in it. I had some rehearsals. I mean, my schedule is just so tight. And the Choreographer Liam flew out from London. We adjusted to being in this massive space where they created sets and everything so it made me feel like I was at home, made me feel like I was in the theatre performing on a stage because it wasn’t in front of a green screen. It allowed you to really feel the magic like you were actually there. We just kind of adjusted the choreography or whatever I was gonna do to the camera angles and where the camera was flying in from like “watch out, I’m gonna kick it” (she said laughing). But there was no special training, just the typical take my Ballet class every morning and go to set and dance for like 10 hours.
How did you get into ballet?
The first ballet class I took was on a basketball court at the Boys/Girls Club in San Pedro, California, and I don’t want to say hated, but it was not something I thought I was gonna do. I think all the other kids, they also were coming from underprivileged backgrounds like me and none of them danced. And they were all older. I was 13. But they all had their gear on whatever it was. They had leggings or tights and I was in these baggy basketball shorts and socks and I was just like this just isn’t right. It just doesn’t feel right. And I think it was the first time that I was taken on Scholarship into the local Valley School.
And I put on the pink tights and I put on the leotard and I could see myself in front of the mirror. That’s when it clicked, that I felt beautiful for the first time in my life. I felt right. Who knows if it was actual reality but in my mind, being a black young girl, being super skinny and long legs and these massive feet and big hands and little head, of which everything was just wrong in the real world. And I stepped into the studio and it was like Oh, everything is exactly right. These are the proportions and I was just like woe, it gave me such power and confidence like I’ve never experienced before.
What message do you want to tell young girls?
It’s hard for young people to accept or ask for support or guidance and that’s just kind of been my saving grace with everything. Especially as young people, we don’t have all the tools to push through and get going through whatever it is. But I think it’s important to first just to have belief in yourself, like true belief that you don’t have to look like the person next to you. What you see on Instagram is not necessarily beauty just because that’s what you have pushed in your face. I think being an individual is so much more beautiful and being unique. I just try and tell young people to own that and be confident in who you are.
Do you think you will be in any more movies?
I don’t know if I will say that me in particular, like I don’t want to limit myself. Looking back, I never in a million years would have been like, I’m gonna write 3 books, like yeah right. But I feel like I’m just kind of leaving things open to fall into place organically. Something that I don’t think I realized ‘til maybe 4 or 5 years ago was how much I enjoyed acting on stage. It’s all through the movement in your body. But I do have a production company. It’s called Life Emotion. We haven’t done anything yet, it’s a long process but I think that I want to be able to be an authentic voice for dance in this medium. It’s difficult to watch dance films and not always feel like it’s truly representing who we are. So I feel like that’s a responsibility that I have and want to do that in the future.
It was such a delight to get to sit and chat with such an inspirational woman. She was so kind in person and took a group photo with us. (She told me she loved my Tutu dress!!!)
You can see Misty Copeland perform The Nutcracker along with The American Ballet Theatre at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on December 16th. More info at ABT.org.
Disney’s THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS is Now Playing in Theaters!
For even more Nutcracker…
Chatting with Mackenzie Foy who plays Clara in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
My magical experience at the Nutcracker World Premiere.
Watch the trailer…
“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.”
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