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Editorial
Misty Copeland Wants More Women of Color to Promote Brands For an Important Reason
Misty Copeland/Facebook
Leah Thomas
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Misty Copeland, the first African American woman to be a major dancer for the American Ballet Theater, wants to see more women of color represented in the media. 

"Representation is so powerful," Copeland told CNN on an episode of Boss Files.

The ballerina, who performs in the Metropolitan Opera House and attends world tours with the Theater, talked to the network about why little girls everywhere need more diversity in advertisements.

"For them to see a black woman in a magazine or with a beauty brand ... so many black girls grow up thinking that they're not beautiful, like they don't look like the women that are on the covers of magazines," she said.

Copeland expedited her endorsement career with Under Armour in 2014 when she appeared in a commericial talking about rejection she experienced initially as a ballerina.

Copeland's other endorsement deals include being the face of Estee Lauder, appearing in both print and digital ads. And debuting her first clothing collection in partnership with Under Armour in May.

Copeland has also had endorsement deals with Dannon, Naked Juice, Coach, and Seiko.

Copeland is one of the few women athletes of color to score such high profile endorsement deals, according to Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment.

"I do not think it is a lack of sponsors looking at African-American women, as much as it is the lack of national and international winning names who have the name recognition, championship titles and [who play in] sports that garner attention as much as other sports," Shabelman said.

And Copeland claimed she is particular about which brands she attaches herself to.

"I'm not gonna commit to something that ... I don't completely stand behind. That's not authentic for me," she said.

Copeland proved that last year when she spoke out publicly against Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's politics. Plank said he believed that a "pro-business president" would be "a real asset for the country."

Copeland responded on an Instagram post, saying, "I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank's recent comments in support of Trump as recently reported. The one topic I've never backed away from speaking openly about is the importance of diversity and inclusion. It is imperative to me that my partners and sponsors share this belief."

"I do think it is my responsibility, especially as a black woman to have a voice and to take a stance when there are things that I don't agree with," Copeland told CNN.

Copeland says she hopes she can continue to use brand partnerships as a way to inspire others along the way.

"I think it's important for people to see first of all, that I'm not an actress or a model. I'm a person, I'm an artist, I'm a black woman. I'm all of these things and that that can be beauty as well," Copeland said.

Copeland's story as a struggling ballerina of color has been told in a documentary as well as in books. She's been on the cover of Elle Magazine, Variety, Self, and others. And she was one of Time's 100 Most Influential People.

"I think just accepting and loving who you are, to me that is so powerful, when you have that strength and beauty on the inside and the outside," she said.

Copeland said her ultimate goal is to send a message to "the little black and brown girls... 'That could be me.'"

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