Misty Copeland has spoken about her historic achievement of becoming American Ballet Theater's first black principal in the company’s 75-year history.
In an interview with E! News, she said: "This has all become more than I ever imagined. I wanted to open the dialogue about race in ballet and bring more people in. It's just beautiful to see the interest that has exploded for such an incredible art form that I will forever be grateful to!"
Ms Copeland told E! News that ballet’s lack of diversity never steered her away from the art — until she reached adulthood.
"I wasn't completely aware of all of that and what it meant. How deep rooted it is in this culture. So I had no apprehensions. But as an adult it was a scary thought. I questioned my future many times."
She also advised young women of colour to follow her lead, stating that to breakthrough, she knew she was representing many more women than herself.
"Just because I'm here in this position now doesn't necessarily mean it's not still going to be hard for others. Barack Obama being President of the United States doesn't mean racism has disappeared. It's all a process and we have to be aware that the work never ends."
Ms Copeland was also recognised in May as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people.