Misty Copeland was promoted Tuesday to female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, becoming the first black woman in the company’s 75-year history to hold the role.
"My dream has been ABT since I was 13," Copeland said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Copeland, 32, is already arguably the most famous ballerina in the U.S., having been the subject of a TIME magazine cover and a popular Under Armour ad campaign, along with her high-profile position at American Ballet Theatre. She has spent 14 years there, more than half as a soloist.
"When there hasn't been someone who's done it before you," Copeland said, "there are moments of doubt."
Born in Kansas City and raised in San Pedro, California, Copeland is the author of the best-selling memoir "Life in Motion" and the children's book "Firebird."
She first slipped on her ballet shoes at the age of 13 at the San Pedro City Ballet and won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards.
Her roles with ABT include Clara, the princess in Ratmansky’s "The Nutcracker," Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" and Odette-Odile in "Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux."
The promotion comes less than a week after 45-year-old ballerina Julie Kent ended her 29-year role in the company in her final performance of "Romeo and Juliet." Kent received more than a 20-minute ovation at the Metropolitan Opera House on Saturday night.
Desmond Richardson, a black male dancer, was a principal with the company in 1977 and 1978 and returned as a guest artist later.