Michaela DePrince has been showing people what she’s made of all her life. The Dutch National Ballet soloist was born in Sierra Leone in the midst of a violent civil war, leaving her orphaned at the age of three. As if living through that trauma at such a young age wasn’t enough, DePrince was also ostracized and teased by other kids because she has vitiligo — a condition that causes the skin to lose its pigment. But something clicked when, outside the orphanage, she found a magazine with a picture of a ballerina. Upon seeing this image, she knew that’s what she wanted to do. “I needed to be that ballerina so much,” she recalls.
When the orphanage came under threat from escalating violence, a near-death escape and long trek to safety brought her to a refugee camp. From there, she was adopted by an American family and left her war-torn …
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