Charlotte Nebres is a 13-year-old preprofessional ballet dancer who, in 2019, made history as the first Black ballerina to dance the role of Marie in New York City Ballet’s beloved production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Following this experience, Nebres wrote the children’s book Charlotte and the Nutcracker (Random House, Dec. 21). The book, written with Sarah Warren and vibrantly illustrated by Alea Marley, is an inspiring story that showcases her tenacity as a young ballerina, full of heart and Christmas spirit.

From the starred Kirkus review of Charlotte and the Nutcracker: “Readers watch as Charlotte prepares, debuts, and performs her role, then celebrates Christmas with family traditions from her family’s dual Trinidadian and Filipinx heritage. Charlotte feels the magic of the season on stage and at home. The illustrations use a variety of perspectives to portray Charlotte’s journey as observer, performer, sister, and daughter. The emphasis on her persistent practice makes her success especially gratifying. This satisfying story of inspiration, dedication, perseverance, and progress will have readers yearning to see the ballet and get into the holiday spirit.”

In this video interview, conducted over Zoom, Nebres describes what it meant to her to break that barrier and dance the role of Marie; what Christmas means to her and her family; and gives wise advice to aspiring ballerinas, especially ones who may not see themselves represented in the world of dance—advice that is equally applicable for anyone working hard to achieve a big dream.