Michaela DePrince

Ballet dancer, grand sujet, Dutch National Ballet

Michaela DePrince is a Sierra Leonean-American ballet dancer. Born Mabinty Bagura to a Muslim family, she was orphaned at the age of three and sent to an orphanage where the ‘aunties’ who cared for the children believed that her skin condition, vitiligo, was a curse and called her the ‘devil’s child’. In 1999, she and another girl from the orphanage were adopted by a Jewish American couple who had 11 children, nine of them adopted.

Inspired by a picture of a ballerina she had seen on a magazine cover in Sierra Leone, Michaela trained as a ballet dancer, winning a scholarship to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. In 2013, she joined the Dutch National Ballet; in 2015, MGM acquired the film rights to the book she wrote with her mother about her life, Taking Flight: From War Orphan To Star Ballerina.