2016 Great Immigrants Recipient

Michaela DePrince
Ballerina, Dutch National Ballet
Born in:
Sierra Leone

"Never be afraid to be a poppy in a field of daffodils," ballerina Michaela DePrince recently wrote on Instagram. DePrince has vitiligo, a skin disease that causes patches of skin to lose its color, which was seen as a devil’s curse in war-torn Sierra Leone, where she was born. She suffered abuse at the hands of caregivers as a result and was living in horrific conditions at an orphanage when she was adopted by an American family at the age of four. After coming to U.S., she studied at the American Ballet Theatre's prestigious Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York City and appeared in the ballet documentary "First Position." She is currently a soloist for the Dutch National Ballet and in 2016 was named an Ambassador for War Child Netherlands. The artist Madonna is directing an new feature film about DePrince’s life titled “Taking Flight” based on DePrince’s 2014 memoir, “Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.” Updated 2018