The life story of Michaela DePrince is truly inspiring.
She not only overcame every challenge thrown in her path, but she also proved the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” to be true!
Michaela DePrince, formerly known as “Mabinty Bangurawas,” was born in Sierra Leone in 1995. She lost both of her parents to the nation’s civil war not long after birth, and was raised in an orphanage. At the orphanage, DePrince’s horror first began.
DePrince suffered from vitiligo, a condition in which the loss of pigment-producing cells causes the skin to become colorless. The condition caused DePrince’s neck to develop white patches, and her neighbors often called her names and made fun of her. She only knew “Mabinty,” the other girl with the same name as her.
Because of her condition, she was called the “Devil’s Child,” and no one wanted to adopt her. DePrince remembered her terrible orphanage experience: “They graded us. The kid who was rated one was the most popular, while the child who was ranked 27 was the least popular. I had the number 27.
They constantly questioned her, “Why would anybody want to adopt the devil’s child?” she told Today.
DePrince spent a lot of her days being neglected, which led to her being without food and starving. Her life seemed hopeless until she carelessly stumbled over a picture of a dancer in a magazine.
She said in interviews, “It wasn’t only that she’s a dancer. It is that she exudes contentment. She said that if what she was doing made her happy, I wanted to do the same for her.
At the age of three, tragedy struck once again. Michaela, a 3-year-old, was stabbed in the stomach by rebels.
She would, however, have some terrible fortune. An American lady was on her way to Africa to adopt Michaela’s friend Mabinty. There was some confusion on the orphanage’s end, so they phoned Elaine to clarify which “Mabinty” she planned to adopt.
When Elaine DePrince discovered that Michaela was an orphan who had been turned down 12 times, she made the decision to adopt both the kids and gave them the names “Michaela” and “Mia.” She informed her husband that she was adopting two daughters after completing the papers.
The DePrince family has adopted before. The parents had already adopted three children from overseas. Hemophilia affected all three of their adoptive boys.
Elaine was always conscious of the additional care her boys need. But when HIV was discovered in their blood, calamity struck. Because there was no cure for the condition at the time, the family lost all three of their boys.
They were persuaded to adopt once again by this. The couple adopted Michaela DePrince, who was 4 years old at the time, in 1999. As soon as she was adopted, she informed her adoptive parents that she loved to dance.
The adoptive parents of DePrince warmly encouraged her to dance. Elaine DePrince and her husband encouraged her interests and drove her to dancing classes. It took Michaela some time to adjust to their steadfast love and care.
Michaela recalls being frightened about losing her new existence. In an interview, she acknowledged having to once keep the light on as she slept. I just feared that if I turned it off when I woke up, I would find myself back at the orphanage.
DePrince was driven by the need to prove everyone wrong. But she encountered some issues even there.
She learned that her skin issue was a hindrance to her career as a dancer. Elaine DePrince encouraged Michaela to keep going, explaining that her white spots were really fairy dust.
Michaela promised to devote every performance to her adoptive father, who passed away in June 2020. She said in a poignant ode to her father that her future spouse will have high standards to live up to because of the example he had set for her.
Because of the love and acceptance she got from her adoptive parents, she was able to overcome her concerns and is today a well-known artist who is famous all over the globe for her dance abilities!
When I was eight years old, the instructor informed me, “You know, we don’t put a lot of effort into the black ballerinas because they all end up becoming fat and having enormous boobs.” said to DePrince.
Michaela, however, wasn’t going to let a teacher’s lack of knowledge decide her destiny. She persevered, and her successful profession was the reward for her many years of sacrifice.
At the age of 17, she started her career in New York City with the Dance Theatre of Harlem.