President Obama Talks Race, Fatherhood With Ballerina Misty Copeland

PHOTO: President Barack Obama, with his daughters, Sasha, left, and Malia, speaks before he pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey Abe, Nov. 25, 2015, during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. PlaySusan Walsh/AP Photo
WATCH How Misty Copeland Made It in Ballet, and Her Junk Food Guilty Pleasure

President Obama held a frank discussion on race and body image, and shared his insight as a father and husband in a sit-down interview with ballerina Misty Copeland.

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In the interview posted by Time magazine Monday, Obama said Copeland has served as a positive role model for African-American women facing down the limitations posed by their race and gender.

"That pressure I think has historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women," Obama said. "And the fact that they’ve got a tall gorgeous mom who has some curves, and that their father appreciates, I think is helpful. I do think that culture’s changing for the younger generation a little bit more."

They also discussed the pressure of achieving and maintaining success, paralleling Obama's experience as the first African-American president and Copeland's as the first black female principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre.

"I feel like as I’m embarking on my first season as a principal dancer I’m experiencing something that I didn’t prepare myself for, I think emotionally and mentally and psychologically," Copeland, 33, said. "When you have all of these expectations and goals to reach this point that 1 percent get to, you know how do you – what do you do when you get there?"

Obama said he often looks at his supporters as a way to keep himself grounded.

"You know, for all the blessings and privileges and responsibilities that I’ve gotten," Obama, 54, said. "I’m just representing a huge cross section of people who are talented and capable and supported me getting to where I came from. So that takes a little bit of the edge off."

Obama also mentioned his disagreement with those who believed his election meant that racism in the country was no longer a factor.

"I remember people talking about how somehow this was going to solve all our racial problems. I wasn’t one of those who subscribed to that notion," Obama said. "But what I want them to draw from it is a sense of justice for everybody. My view is that the strength of having been a minority on the receiving end of discrimination is that it should make you that much more attuned and empathetic towards anybody who’s vulnerable."

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