Sierra Leonean-American ballet dancer Michaela DePrince appears in Beyoncé’s visual album, ‘Lemonade’:
“In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, DePrince admits she thought it was a joke when she found out Beyoncé wanted to cast her in the video. At the time, DePrince was living in Amsterdam, where she performs as a member of the Dutch National Ballet. It wasn’t long before she was on a plane to New Orleans. Shooting for the scene took place over the course of two days in December. According to the WSJ article, the dancer choreographed her own moves….
“Born Mabinty Bangura in Sierra Leone in 1995, DePrince lost both her parents during the country’s civil war. Her uncle left her in an orphanage when she was three. There, she was taunted and abused by the women who looked after her. She was called “devil child” due to a skin condition she was born with, vitiligo, that made her skin appear spotted.
As the story goes, it was at the orphanage that she first came across a photo of a ballet dancer on the cover of a magazine. DePrince was mesmerized. “It represented freedom, it represented hope, it represented trying to live a little longer,” she told CNN in a 2012 interview. “I was so upset in the orphanage, I have no idea how I got through it but seeing that, it completely saved me.”
At four, DePrince and her closest friend were adapted by an American couple from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The family encouraged her to pursue her passion for ballet from a young age….”