A barrier-breaker since the age of 15 when she won the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award, professional ballerina Misty Copeland is using the power of her platform to inspire women to embrace their inner strength.
In a new partnership with Ford for the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, 38-year-old Copeland is encouraging women to #ShowSomeMuscle on social media as a way to share their personal stories of strength.
Until recently ballerinas weren't considered athletes, Copeland told Cheddar, so "to be aligned with a muscle car, I think, is so beautiful and so bad- you-know-what."
Copeland said she hopes to "encourage women just to share their stories of strength. But it's not just physical strength, but inspiring personal stories of their focus and perseverance and resiliency, compassion, creativity, and I'm honored to be a part of such an incredible campaign and showing all that women are capable of."
For some women, in particular dancers, restrictions due to the pandemic have made consistent training and the ability to stay at the top of their game more difficult. However, the Swans for Relief initiative, sparked by Copeland last year, looks to ensure dancers have the support they need to survive.
More than 30 professional ballerinas from around the world have joined the cause, according to Copeland, and through GoFundMe the group looks to raise half a million dollars to distribute to each dancer's ballet company.
"I think more so than just thinking of myself and this time and how difficult it's been for me, I think a way for me to stay positive and heal is to be able to do something for my community and for the ballet community," she said.
While Copeland works to get ballerinas across the globe back into the studio and on stage, she's also paying it forward to an even younger generation of girls with her book Bunheads released last year. It tells the story of young Misty Copeland and the journey to becoming a professional dancer, all while dispelling myths about "eating disorders and cut-throat competition" along the way.
"I really wanted to shift that idea and the stereotypes of what people think of when they think of classical dance. The way it's depicted in film and in the media, which often can be negative," she explained.