African orphan Michaela DePrince overcomes tragedy to become elite ballerina

Michaela DePrince did not begin life on the fast track to becoming a ballerina. She was born in Sierra Leone and was orphaned when she was three as her parents died amidst the ongoing civil war.

She was taken to an orphanage, but struggled to find a family because of vitalago, a condition which causes white spots to appear on her skin. But two critical moments changed DePrince's life in that orphanage: finding a magazine with a prima ballerina displayed on the cover and finally being adopted by Pennsylvania couple Elaine and Charles DePrince at the age of four.

ABC News tells more of DePrince's story in this video:

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Since moving to the United States to live with her new family, DePrince's hard work has opened many doors, including the chance to star in the upcoming documentary First Position. The film follows young dancers competing at the Youth America Grand Prix, though DePrince was almost prevented from taking part due to her injury.

Her unique story and involvement with First Position have also given her the opportunity to perform with the well-known Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City and led to a certain degree of stardom. DePrince has been featured in Marie Claire, Pointe Magazine and will be in a forthcoming issue of Teen Vogue. Dancing With The Stars fans may also recognize her from her performance on the show on April 24.

Fans can follow DePrince on Twitter at @michdeprince.