Misty Copeland hopes her new book will bring much-needed recognition to Black dancers who have made their mark throughout history.
The principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, who made history in 2015 when she became the first Black female dancer in the company's 75-year history to earn that position, recently opened up about trailblazers who have inspired her in the art form and why she wanted to honor their life stories in her book, "Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy."
Copeland said she feels there is "no real documentation of Black ballerinas throughout history" while speaking about the book during an appearance on "Good Morning America" on Tuesday.
"We have contributed to this culture for generations and generations," she said. "People, I think, often get confused and they think, well, you have Alvin Ailey and you have these Black dancers on the stage, but there's a big difference between classical dancers and modern dancers."
"And classical dancers aren't often given the same opportunities in that very white space, so it's been so important for me to tell these stories," she continued.
Her new book, illustrated by Salena Barnes, shares the life stories of 27 Black dancers who made an impact. One is Lauren Anderson, who became the Houston Ballet's first Black principal dancer in 1990.
Copeland said Anderson was the first ballerina that she was "consciously aware of."
"I was 15 years old, I think, the first time I saw her on the cover of 'Dance Magazine' and it was shocking to see someone with brown skin," she said. "I was just blown away by that image. I don't even think I realized the lack of representation that I had been shown up until that point and it opened up a whole new world."
"It made me want to go and do the research and find out more about how I'm a part of a bigger picture," she added. "This book really is my journey to our legacy."
Copeland said she is cognizant of her impact in the space and how many young dancers look up to her and her achievements.
"I understand what it is to be in my position and it's just been such a part of my journey to be able to tell the stories of past dancers who have set the stage for me, whose shoulders I stand on, and dancers who are coming up now and will continue on all of our legacies in the future," she said.
Copeland also offered some advice to those dreaming about their making their own success in dance.
"I don't think it's ever too late to do anything in life, even ballet," she said. "As much as we're told -- and I've been told from the time I started -- that you have to get the body at a certain age in order to shape it and mold it, I truly believe that if you're committed, you have the right team of people around you, you have the right teachers, the right support, than anything is possible."
"My key message throughout my journey, throughout my career, has been having mentors in my life, being open to accepting guidance and advice, and I think that's what young people should be prepared for," she continued. "That you can't do this on your own and it's so important to have a support system."
"Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy" is out now.
WATCH: Misty Copeland feels responsible for increasing representation in ballet