An orphaned survivor of the Sierra Leonese civil war, DePrince’s journey to the ballet stage is as unlikely as they come. Her first encounter with ballet came at the age of four, when she was inspired by a picture of a dancer in a magazine she found at the orphanage where her uncle had left her. After her adoption, DePrince was met with further discouragement within the ballet world both for her skin color and her vitiligo, which spotted her skin with white dots.
Currently a member of the Dutch National Ballet, DePrince became a dance celebrity after the publication of her YA memoir, “Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina,” which she penned with her mother, Elaine DePrince.
Hamri directed the features “Something New,” “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” and “Just Wright” and is an executive director on Fox’s “Empire.” She has also helmed episodes of the hip-hop soap opera, as well as of “Shameless,” “Elementary,” “Glee” and “Nashville.”
Here’s the book synopsis for “Taking Flight”:
The extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet.
Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life.
At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary “First Position,” as well as on “Dancing with the Stars,” “Good Morning America,” and “Nightline.”
In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars.