Becoming a professional ballerina is a difficult enough goal to achieve. Becoming a professional ballerina when you're born in a war-torn country and brought up in an orphanage is all but impossible.
But Michaela DePrince, a soloist with the Dutch National Ballet who is originally from Sierra Leone and raised in the United States, has defied all the odds, rising to prominence for her story, her grace, and above all, her talent.
It's a tale worth celebrating, and Jockey has done exactly that by featuring DePrince in their most recent "Show 'Em What's Underneath" campaign. The ad lets her tell her story while exhibiting the perfect leaps and pointe skills that got her to where she is now.
As DePrince has written about for the American Vitiligo Foundation, her skin condition made her the object of ridicule and beatings as a child, and when she happened to see a picture of a ballerina on the cover of Dance Magazine, she aspired toward the "happy and carefree" life she imagined the woman led.
Now travelling the world as a professional dancer (she's also an author twice over and choreographer for Beyoncé), DePrince embraces her skin as wholly as she does her talent. And in an industry that is still primarily white, that means talking about race as well.
"It is reassuring to have comrades in arms when knocking down barriers," DePrince explained in a 2016 interview with ET. "I think that there are other young, powerful females besides Misty [Copeland] and me whose presence on the stages of the world will affect change."
It's difficult to imagine that anyone seeing her story and campaign would think otherwise.