Misty Copeland: A Modern Muse
Posted on 22 April 2018
Misty Copeland is an inspiration beyond the stage. As American Ballet Theatre's first African American female principal dancer, Misty exhibits admirable confidence and grace. Catch a glimpse of her magic and you'll feel enchanted by her infectious smile and poised demeanor. The face of Estee Lauder's Modern Muse campaign, Misty understands the impact of her historical achievements both on and off the stage. In an exclusive ONYX interview, Misty shares her thoughts on representation in the beauty industry, a breakdown of her skincare regimen, and how Modern Muse is involved in every aspect of her life.
"I’m representing an intersection of women who haven’t always been given an opportunity with a beauty brand. To me that’s progress, strength, beauty and what a muse is. It’s what’s inspiring people."
- Misty Copeland
ONYX: Muse by definition is a creative artist's source of inspiration. After so many history-making achievements, such as becoming the first Black woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theater's 75-year history, what keeps you motivated?
Misty Copeland: The challenge of ballet is on another level. I will never be content or ever reach perfection so there’s never a lack of motivation. With that said, there are those days when it’s just so hard, whether it be technically or exhaustion. For motivation, I watch the dancers around me at ABT, who are incredible, or I look to the youth. These are the young people who are either looking to me for inspiration or are just on their own journey with so much power, energy, courage and confidence. Especially the little brown ones. They are pure motivation for me to keep striving.
ONYX: You have been extremely candid about your journey as a ballerina and how body image played a role in your confidence on stage. What rituals do you practice to maintain a positive body image?
MC: I’m fully aware of how we as women, and especially how black women are portrayed in the media are expected to look. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen into that trap although I have battled with myself to be what I thought a ballerina should look like. I stay away from the warped body image expectations we see in magazines and on social media. I know that’s not real, attainable, or what I see as beautiful. Now, as a ballerina, it’s always been shown that she should be white and rail thin. I’ve come to interpret that as not black or brown. I’ve gotten myself to a place where I am my healthiest self. My body is like no one else’s and to me that unique individuality is what is beautiful.
ONYX: Within the last few years, we have seen a rise in representation of people of color across multiple platforms, including tv/film, media, and beauty. We created We Are ONYX to address the lack of representation in the beauty industry. What are your thoughts on society's progress on addressing representation?
MC: It’s very interesting. Black women and their natural affinity for style, swagger, grace and strength has always influenced beauty and fashion. And that couldn’t be more apparent than it is today. With where we are in the world and with the growth of diversity in all mediums, we’ve definitely carved out a place for ourselves. It’s exciting to see beauty brands like Estée Lauder be leaders and represent all shades and types of women with their spokesmodels. I’m so proud to be a part of a beauty brand that’s forward thinking and gives all women a voice and space to feel accepted and beautiful.
It’s exciting to see beauty brands like Estée Lauder be leaders and represent all shades and types of women with their spokesmodels. I’m so proud to be a part of a beauty brand that’s forward thinking and gives all women a voice and space to feel accepted and beautiful.
ONYX: As a role model and trailblazer for so many young girls, particularly, black girls, who has served as your muse throughout your career?
MC: Raven Wilkinson has been a huge influence and “muse” throughout my career. Her perseverance, courage and grace in the face of adversity sparked something in me I never thought possible or saw as my path. She helped to fuel this need to speak and represent more than just myself but the black women who were never given an opportunity, a voice or a platform to be heard or seen.
ONYX: Your skin is forever glowing and flawless! What is your skin type and what is your post-show beauty routine? (or post-show beauty secret)?
MC: Ha! Well, I don’t know that I agree that it’s flawless ALL the time. I do have the help of Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup. But on the daily, I keep my face makeup free. I’m sure that helps. I’d say I tend to be on the oily side. I’m sweating all day, every day, so keeping my skin clean and hydrated is my beauty routine. Water water water. When I’m in performance season and I’m wearing a ton of stage makeup daily, I use Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing wipes, La Mer face wash, and Clinique moisturizer.
ONYX: What does it mean to you to be the face of Modern Muse?
MC: I'm representing an intersection of women who haven’t always been given an opportunity with a beauty brand. To me that’s progress, strength, beauty and what a muse is. It’s what’s inspiring people.
ONYX: How do you incorporate the Modern Muse fragrance into your routine?
MC: It’s in every aspect of my life. Before I leave the house every morning, if I have rehearsal with a partner, and especially before I go on stage. It’s become somewhat of a ritual. A spray before I go onstage. It’s a beautiful finishing touch.