Misty Copeland made history as the first African American female dancer in the history of the American Ballet Theatre. Now, Copeland has another dance partner. This month, she joined actresses Charlize Theron and Yao Chen in Breitling’s “Spotlight Squad” trio as an ambassador for the luxury watch brand’s first versatile all-purpose watches for women, the Chronomat 36 and 32. “I like to bring ballet with me on these partnerships,” Copeland tells DuJour. “I have a clear message and Breitling is aligned with that. It’s hard to find brands who are willing to accept you for you.” This partnership will help shine a spotlight (pun intended) on philanthropy, which is close to Copeland’s heart. “Everything that I do, they’ve stood behind, and that is so valuable for me,” says Copeland. “To be recognized and be seen means everything. To have their support says everything about them.” Copeland is very particular about the brands she partners with. “[Breitling] has this niche way of presenting themselves but at the same time appealing to so many people,” she explains. “Their product looks so rich but can be dressed up or dressed down.”
The Missouri native was one of six children born to a single mother who moved the family to California at a young age and raised them in a motel. When she was 13, via a local Boys and Girls Club, Copeland was introduced to a dance teacher who discovered her natural talent and encouraged her to pursue formal ballet training. She knows firsthand how the arts can add purpose to young children’s lives. As an ambassador for MindLeaps, a NGO working in East and West Africa to empower vulnerable youth through a dance-based program, Copeland has devoted much of her time to mentoring young girls and boys. “Being homeless for a lot of my childhood and not really thriving until the arts came into my life, I saw myself in these students,” she says. “MindLeaps invites kids in from off the streets and introduces them to music and dance. That’s how you change communities.”
Breitling CEO Georges Kern was impressed with Copeland’s humanitarian and mentoring work, as well. “Misty is, of course, one of the world’s greatest dancers, but she’s also an amazing role model,” says Kern. “She’s a great example of a Breitling Squad member: She has unmatched achievements in her professional life but is also committed to her humanitarian work.”
The 38-year-old dancer, author and philanthropist lives with her husband, lawyer Olu Evans, on the Upper West Side near the Metropolitan Opera House, where she is eager to step on stage again soon. Until then, she’ll be taking part in virtual dance presentations with her fellow dancers and showing off her new favorite watch: the 18-karat red gold and stainless steel 36mm Chronomat. “I like the feel of a men’s-size watch and really like that it can be dressed up or down. I like it with jeans and a white T-shirt but could also see it with a leather jacket and tulle dress and heels,” says Copeland. “As much as I’m a ballerina, I love that unisex feel with the things that I wear.”
Time has always been on her side, so she’s learned to be patient. “Not having a lot of structure and stability growing up, time was always something I could control. I was always an hour early to school with my little watch on,” says Copeland. “It means so much in my career, and I always craved being a part of the ballet because it was everything that I didn’t have.” Well, now, she has it all.