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Video: A ballerina who’s making history

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    >>> finally tonight, we continue to look at this year's 100 most notable people as chosen by our friend and our partner website that covers african-american news and culture, thegrio.com. tonight, a woman inspiring the next generation of young women to take their turn right behind her in the spotlight, we get her story tonight from nbc's natalie morales .

    >> reporter: when misty copeland sees her reflection, she says an artist, a ballerina.

    >> there, y e.

    >> reporter: but there are few ballerinas quite like misty. she's the first afterman american in two decades to be appointed soloist for new york's famed ballet theatre. how would you describe about how you feel about ballet?

    >> i've never been more passionate about something, even though i don't fit the typical mold and i can't open up the book and see someone who looks like me. i still feel this really strong connection.

    >> reporter: it's a connection that for misty started late, at 13. when most dancers are already veterans. her first lesson, not at a ballet bar but on this boys and girls club basketball court in los angeles . starting late had its own challenges.

    >> you want to fit in. i felt like i didn't belong.

    >> reporter: she didn't have the typical build. at 5'2" and mostly muscle, she soon proved to be a forceful presence. she returned pro at the age of 17 and turned soloist at age 24.

    >> she doesn't take it for granted. she's aware she was given a special gift.

    >> reporter: misty knows she's bracing a trail as a classical dancer, leading by example. her message on a visit to her boys and girls club where she took her first ballet steps --

    >> i just want to be here to give you guys, you know, a concrete image of what's possible.

    >> reporter: from a 13-year-old dreamer on a basketball court to a soloist dazzling audiences at washington's kennedy center , one mold has been broken, and for those trying to follow in her dance steps , another created. natalie morales , nbc news, new york.


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