Michaela DePrince was born in war-torn Sierra Leone, right in the midst of the country’s decade-long civil war. Rebels killed her father, and shortly after, her mother died of fever and starvation. At a young age, Michaela had vitiligo, a condition that causes patches of skin to lose its color. In Michaela’s motherland, vitiligo was widely considered a curse of the devil and thus, her uncle abandoned her at an orphanage. It was there where Michaela bore the brunt of relentless taunts, neglect, and abuse; being deemed “the devil’s child.”
At a very young age, Michaela caught in the corner of her eye a magazine at the orphanage, featuring a poised ballerina en pointe. This was the moment when Michaela was not only introduced to ballet, but rather, completely, totally, and utterly enamored with ballet. Soon after, Michaela was adopted to a family in the US; becoming one of the nine children adopted, making it eleven children in total.