An 11-year-old girl will make history as the first black lead in NYC ballet's 'The Nutcracker'
via TK2LDCNews / Twitter

For the first time since the annual holiday production began in 1954, the lead role of Marie in The New York City Ballet's production of "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker," is a black ballerina.

Eleven-year-old Charlotte Nebres, whose mother's family is from Trinidad and father's is from the Philippines, is a student at the School of American Ballet.

The leading role of the young heroine is known as Marie in the New York City Ballet's production, in others the young girl who dreams The Nutcracker to live is called Clara.


"When I'm looking for someone who can do Marie, I'm looking for someone primarily who has an ability to act on stage and to convey a story," Dena Abergel, children's ballet master at New York City Ballet, told The New York Times. "... It has to be someone who can command the stage and who has enough confidence and spontaneity to handle whatever comes her way."

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Charlotte is a student at the School of American Ballet where most of the City Ballet's members originate.

After Nebres heard that she got the role she told her mother the news with a deadpan delivery.

"With that poker face of hers, she said, 'Well, I'm Marie,' And I just thought, oh my goodness — they really did it. I couldn't believe it," her mother recalled.

Charlotte couldn't believe that she was the first black girl to be cast as Marie. "Wow. That seems a little late," she said after hearing the news.

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Charlotte's mother believes there's a fine line when it comes to celebrating her daughter's accomplishment.

"It's tough because we have past hurts, past injuries and disappointments," she said, "and you don't necessarily want to color their worldview that way. You want them to approach it with their fresh perspective," she said.

"It really gave me chills thinking about it," she added.

The young ballerina believes her prominent role in the production may inspire other people of color to become involved in the ballet.

"It's pretty amazing to be not only representing S.A.B., but also representing all of our cultures," she told the New York Times. "There might be a little boy or girl in the audience seeing that and saying, hey, I can do that, too."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Naomi Osaka was only 20 years old when she won the U.S. Open tournament, and she is the first Asian player to hold the highest singles ranking. The tennis star moved to the U.S. from Japan at age three and she has held both Japanese and American citizenship.

Her U.S. citizenship has been a topic of discussion as the Japanese exemption that allows her to hold both passports expired at age 22—which Osaka turned in 2019. At that time, she announced she would choose to give up her U.S. citizenship to keep her Japanese citizenship and compete for Japan in the 2020 Olympics. However, Osaka has said that she feels "more like a global citizen" than one particular nationality—a sentiment supported by her latest endeavor.

In partnership with Nike and Laureus Sport for Good, Osaka launched a program to support girls in sports in Japan last year. Her Play Academy is committed to leveling the playing field for girls through physical play and sports, giving girls opportunities and encouragement to get moving.

Now, she is expanding Play Academy to Los Angeles, where she currently lives and trains, as well as to Haiti, where her father is from.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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