Misty Copeland (born 1982) is an American ballerina, described by many accounts as the first African American female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), one of the three great American-style classical ballet companies on the world stage today (along with New York City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet). However, Nora Kimball, who was with the ABT in the mid 1980s preceded her. In this role as the second African-American ballerina and first in two decades with ABT, she has endured the cultural pressure associated with it. Copeland is considered a prodigy who rose to stardom despite not starting ballet until the age of 13. By age 15, Copeland’s mother and ballet teachers, who were serving as her custodial guardians, fought a custody battle over her.