“President Barack Obama and ballerina Misty Copeland sat down with TIME reporter Maya Rhodan on Feb. 29 for a conversation about race, gender and success in the White House Cabinet room.
Here is a full transcript of the conversation:
TIME: Well thank you both so much for joining us today. My hope is that this is more of a conversation than an interview. So we’ll just let you guys talk. I’m going to be obviously jumping in with questions. But we want it to be natural and fun. And I want to start off by saying that you guys have a lot more in common than I’m sure a lot of people know. You’re both born into multiracial families, you were raised by single mothers. And you’ve risen to the top of your respective fields as African Americans. Which is pretty notable. But I’m curious, what do you see in each other that you recognize in yourself? Like what is it, and is there a common thread that has allowed you both to succeed?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:Well first of all, I thought you were going to say that I’m also a really good dancer. (Laughter.)
TIME: I thought about it. I saw you dancing with a 106-year-old. (Laughter.)
MISTY COPELAND: That’s not the common thread.
OBAMA: So I was a little let down as you, that wasn’t the common thread that she picked up on. (Laughter.) Well first of all, I mean I couldn’t be prouder of what Misty’s done
You know, as the father of two daughters, one of the things I’m always looking for are strong women who are out there who are breaking barriers and doing great stuff. And Misty’s a great example of that. Somebody who has entered a field that’s very competitive, where the assumptions are that she may not belong. And through sheer force of will and determination and incredible talent and hard work she was able to arrive at the pinnacle of her field. And that’s exciting.
The other thing is, as a father of two daughters, seeing how images of strong athletic accomplished women carry over, and encouraging them in sports and dance and how they move physically, it turns out that every study shows that young girls who are involved in sports, dance, athletics end up having more confidence generally. And across the board in everything that they do end up being more assertive, happier. So this is one of the reasons why having Misty on our Fitness Council has been so important…”