CHANGE MAKERS UP
Two profiles today: Bill Bragg is English, white, male and pushing 60. Misty Copeland is a 30-something American black woman. But they have a few things in common too – they’re both performers and both change makers. He’s been onstage with his guitar, railing against the system since Thatcherite Britain; she just has to show up to work and she’s making a statement. Leading black ballerinas are a rare sight. And black women playing any role that isn’t ostentatiously “ethnic” in a Disney film – unheard of.
Copeland is the ballerina in Disney’s upcoming adaptation of the Christmas classic The Nutcracker. And it’s clear that, despite already being the star of the prestigious American Ballet Theatre and the face of Estee Lauder, she was blown away to be approached for the role. “It was, like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s going to be this movie that will live on, a Disney film that people will look at, and it’s not a black ballerina. It’s just normal. It is what it is.’”
Her astonishment is sad, in 2018, but we all know what she means. When Disney depicts a non-white woman as one of its famed princesses she tends to be wearing fringed moccasins or singing the blues while stirring a pot of gumbo or trying to coax a genie out of a bottle.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms opens on November 22, which is also the middle date of Bragg’s three gigs in Auckland. However, tickets for Bragg have sold out so, if you’re in the mood to celebrate change that night, you’ll have to go and see the Disney flick.