No matter what age you are, you probably have a person or two that you really look up to.
They are your role models, your senseis, your gurus when it comes to making big life choices, shaping your personality or just deciding which Starbucks coffee to get. Maybe it's your parents, aunts, uncles, next door neighbors, or big celebrities and others who are successful in their field.
It matters that people have role models that they can identify with and see themselves in. But sometimes it's harder than it should be.
According to former ballet dancer and book author Joseph Carman, "ballet has a lily-white reputation." In Pointe Magazine, Carman writes that while Asian and Asian-American dancers are now more fairly represented than they were in the past, "dancers of other ethnic backgrounds continue to face challenges, especially women." Which is understandably discouraging for young, aspiring ballerinas of color.
But luckily, there are people like actress and photographer TaKiyah Wallace, who are striving to make a change.
To ensure that ALL aspiring prima donnas get their 15 minutes of fame, Wallace started an organization called Brown Girls Do Ballet.
It all started as a personal photography project in Wallace's home state of Texas back in 2013.
The idea was born after Wallace discovered the shocking lack of cultural diversity in her daughter's ballet school.
"Like any mom, I was concerned [with] how Charlie would feel in a class where no one resembled her," Wallace told A Plus.
So she made it her goal to "highlight underrepresented Hispanic, African ancestored, Asian, East Indian, and Native American girls enrolled in Ballet programs across Texas."
But the project didn't stop there. According to Wallace, she was bombarded with countless inquiries from all across the country.
Soon, Brown Girls Do Ballet was created with a mission to assist young girls in their ballet development and spotlight the underrepresented minorities.
This fall, Brown Girls is scheduled to publish its first book, "The Little Black Book for Ballerinas." The book features tips for auditions, hair tutorials, scholarships and a classical ballet-inspired calendar photographed by Justin Reid. You can donate here to help cover the costs of production.
Visit Brown Girls Do Ballet website to learn more about the initiative.
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