*Misty Copeland had a banner 2015 – so much so, that the incomparable ballerina made Barbara Walters’ annual list of the “10 Most Fascinating People.”
Copeland pirouetted into history books when this year she became the first black female principal dancer in the 75-year existence of the American Ballet Theatre.
She talks about her long journey toward the historic accomplishment in an interview for the ABC News special, “Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2015,” airing Thursday, Dec. 17 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
“I was just so always afraid of what people thought of me and of failing,” Copeland told Walters.
Copeland began her dance career at 13 years old in a ballet class at a Boys and Girls Club, where she was a natural. Though it usually takes years, Copeland was dancing on point in three months.
At the time, Copeland was living in a welfare motel room with her single mother and her five siblings in San Pedro, California. The family lived on food stamps while Copeland’s mom worked multiple jobs.
Since ballet took up so much of her time, Copeland’s instructor Cindy Bradley invited her to live with her family during the week.
But at 15, Copeland made headlines for being the center of a legal battle between her mother and Bradley over whom Copeland would live with. The case was eventually dropped, and Copeland continued to live with her mother.
However, before the issue was resolved, the family appeared on the television show “Leeza.” (View below at 8:28)
“So much of my life was kind of put out there in the public because of this custody situation. And it really took a toll on me,” Copeland told Walters. “I felt like I was being exposed for all of these people to be finding out about my personal life on television, and I just wasn’t prepared for that.”
Today, Copeland is in the spotlight for her talent and as the American Ballet Theatre’s first black female principal dancer.
“And I think that I have changed that perception for a lot of people,” Copeland said.
Below, Copeland tells Walters this year has been a “whirlwind.”