Casting Call: Life in Motion

Published August 22, 2014

In which we suggest who should star in the next big adaptation, remake, or historical film.

Misty Copeland has been making headlines. The American Ballet Theatre’s third female black soloist, she is about to become the first black ballerina to dance the role of Swan Queen for the company’s Brisbane performance of Swan Lake next month. She’s the new posterchild of Under Armour’s women’s line. And New Line Cinema has just optioned the rights to her memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. Copeland’s memoir tracks her rapid ascent to dance stardom: She began taking ballet classes at age 13 (cripplingly late, for most dancers) and was put on pointe within a few months (a process that takes most dancers years) all while enduring an oppressive and destitute home life. The memoir focuses on her teenage years, the time during which she crammed a lifetime’s worth of classical dance training into just four years before she began applying to dance companies.

Copeland’s dance teacher Cynthia Bradley and her husband Patrick took the young girl under their wing, housing her during summer dance intensives and aiding her petition for emancipation before she hit age 18. They became embroiled in a bitter, highly publicized custody battle with Misty’s mother Sylvia DelaCerna, a former cheerleader. Bradley was the first to see Misty’s enormous potential as a dancer, and encouraged her to attend a dedicated ballet school instead of simply attending weekly classes at the local Girls and Boys Club.

Copeland’s story extends beyond the meteoric ascent of a prodigy. In addition to the personal challenges she confronted, she also faced the broader struggle of being a curvy, black ballerina in a wealthy, WASP-dominated art ridden with eating disorders—a struggle about which she has been astonishingly candid in the press and in her book. Since her emergence onto the professional ballet scene in the late ’90s, Copeland has also performed for Prince, posed for calendars, and designed dancewear for women who don’t fit the dancer body stereotype. She continues to defy expectations in an industry that has frequently been criticized for its conservatism. It’s an important movie that deserves thoughtful casting, and we have a few suggestions as development gets underway.

Casting Call runs every Friday. For more, click here.