Misty Copeland is one of the luminaries selected for the TV special Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2015. This summer, Copeland became a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater. She is just the third African-American soloist in ABT history. Becoming a principal dancer was her ultimate dream by the time she was 13 — when she first started to dance at a Boys and Girls Club. At that time, she was living with her single mother and five siblings in a motel room in California. At the Boys and Girls Club she met dance instructor Cindy Bradley who saw Copeland’s talent right away. Bradley invited Misty to study with her at her dance studio but it involved a 2-hour commute. Bradley eventually invited Misty to live with her family, Monday through Friday, an arrangement Copeland’s mother agreed to. But then Misty stopped coming home on the weekends. A custody battle ensued.
The case was dropped, Copeland returned to live with her mother, but a teenage girl’s life was exposed. The custody battle made the news and the Copeland family appeared on the TV show Leeza to tell their side. As Copeland told The Baltimore Sun in 2014, while promoting her memoir Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, “I [also] have to accept that they all did what they thought was best for me. No one was trying to hurt me or gain anything for themselves. But it is what it is, and it sucks that I experienced the trauma I did.” Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2015 airs December 17 at 9:30pm on ABC.