Time Magazine reporter Maya Rhodan sat down with President Barack Obama and prima ballerina Misty Copeland for a conversation that covered several topics familiar to the pair who've reached the top of their professional fields.
During the 30 minute chat, the two delve deep into issues of gender, race and representation.
Misty notes that though she has faced incredible obstacles in the ballet world, they've only pushed her to work harder. In the conversation she says, "...it’s also allowed me to have this fire inside of me that I don’t know if I would have or have had if I weren’t in this field."
Misty says that her skin color and body type have often come under scrutiny. "I think that being in this position and showing that I can execute and do all of these things that it’s possible to have any skin complexion, to have a healthy body image for the ballerina body."
As a father of two, the President says he worries about the messages his teenage daughters receive. "It’s part and parcel of a broader way in which we socialize and press women to constantly doubt themselves or define themselves in terms of a certain appearance," he says. "And so Michelle and I are always guarding against that."
President Obama highlights the value of representation but underscores that the systems marginalized groups must navigate are fundamentally unfair, "But what we also have to remember is that the barriers that exist for them to pursue their dreams are deep and structural," he says.
Watch the full conversation below.