Janet Rollé Makes History As First Black CEO Of The American Ballet Theatre


Dec. 7 2021, Published 8:02 a.m. ET

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News of Janet Rollé becoming a pioneer in ballet has us twirling joyfully like one of the dancers from the Nutcracker. On January 3, she will officially land gracefully into her new position as the first Black CEO and executive director of the American Ballet Theatre, CNN reports.

She has already awed the world through her creativity, poise, and business acumen over more than a decade. From serving as general manager for Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment to becoming BET Network’s first Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, according to AfroTech, Rollé has become an inspiration for many young Black women who wish to be seen in the space of ballet.

Historically, the world of ballet has lacked diversity and representation. According to USA Today, the stereotypical “image” of being a ballet dancer has been problematic over the years. Misty Copeland, the first Black woman to become principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, noted in a USA Today interview “the difficulties of having very few role models in ballet.”

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In a recent CNN article about Rollé, an interview is referenced with Copeland sharing her own ballet school experience of being being told, ‘You don’t belong here, your skin is the wrong color, your feet are too flat … we can’t work with your hair.’ In another CNN article, Copeland also talked about a Russian ballet school “using blackface in their performances.”

Now, Rollé is set to join the elite group of phenomenal Black women making history in ballet, innovating, and demanding to be seen. She has become a woman that Black girls in ballet can see as a role model. Similar to how her mother, “an immigrant from Jamaica,” brought her to dance class at the age of eight, having someone to motivate you and show you your dream is possible can go a long way.

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Rollé further shared in the statement how her mother and dance impacted her career and personal growth. “Through dance, I learned how to be a professional, the value of discipline and technique, and my love for the creative process. These lessons have always been at the core of my professional life and work,” she said.

“It is therefore a singular privilege to be entrusted by the Board to preserve and extend the legacy of American Ballet Theatre, and to ensure its future prosperity, cultural impact, and relevance.”

“To come full circle and be in a position to give back to the art that has given me so much is a source of unbridled and immense joy,” she added.

Previously, Rollé served as associate producer for Beyoncé’s groundbreaking Coachella performance and Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé, as well as an executive producer for the Emmy-winning film, Black Is King. The excellence speaks for itself.

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Rollé has also held positions at AOL, MTV Networks, and HBO and is on the boards of BuzzFeed and Hallmark Cards. According to a CNN article, she has also acted as “executive vice president and chief marketing officer at CNN Worldwide.” One can only imagine all that Rollé will continue to do in her career and impact the world.

We are overjoyed to be able to witness a beautiful historical moment and are looking forward to seeing the work she does in the new year.

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By: Bobbie Bell

Bobbie Bell is from Brooklyn, New York and a graduate from Brooklyn College where she received her B.S. in Journalism and Media Studies. Currently pursuing her Master’s in Publishing from New York University, she loves a good book on the beach or next to a fireplace. As an alumni of the Emma Bowen Foundation, she has experience working in media and nonprofit spaces where creating a diverse and equitable space is at the forefront of her work. Bobbie is an alumni of the NBCUniversal Page Program, where she had the opportunity to gain experience and exposure to a variety of businesses in the entertainment space. Upon organizing a period drive during the pandemic, she found how meaningful it is to her that storytelling is used to bring people together and make change happen. In her downtime, you may find Bobbie spending time with her family and binge watching her latest obsessions that are streaming.

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