First there was the Zendaya Barbie. Then came the Ava DuVernay. And now, we have Misty Copeland. Today Barbie unveiled the Misty Copeland doll as the newest addition to its “Sheroes” collection. And to that, we say, yassss!
“It’s powerful, especially right now, to have Black women celebrated and seen in areas that they haven’t really been a part of before,” said Copeland, who will be a speaker at the 2016 ESSENCE Festival, held June 30-July 3 in New Orleans. “To be a ballerina and to have a Barbie that truly represents us—like she has muscles, she’s an athlete, she has brown skin—I can’t even imagine what I would’ve thought seeing a brown ballerina Barbie when I was younger.”
Copeland said that the significance of the Barbie extends beyond the honor of getting her own doll. “I hope children can use this doll to see endless possibilities, even if it’s not specifically directed at ballet,” she said. “Even if it’s not a conscious thing, I hope the message of the doll sticks with them, like, ‘I am her, and it’s not about the color of my skin.’”
She’ll bring that kind of uplifting spirit to this year’s ESSENCE Festival as a speaker on the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience stage. “To be put on this platform with such incredibly powerful Black women, it means so much to me,” said Copeland of being on a speaker lineup with women like Tyra Banks and Iyanla Vanzant.
Of course, Copeland is also excited to check out the artists on the Festival lineup, especially Puff Daddy & the Family and Kendrick Lamar (she’s obsessed with his verse on Beyoncé’s Lemonade). But the special treat is having the opportunity to see first-time headliner Mariah Carey.
“Mariah Carey was such a big part of my adolescence and inspiration,” Copeland said. “Just seeing a biracial woman succeed, I felt like I connected with her so much, so I’ve been a huge fan of hers for forever.”