Stephanie Kurlow from Sydney, Australia, dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina ever since she was 2 years old.
But she stopped performing in 2010 after she converted to Islam since it was difficult for her to pursue her form of dancing — which requires wearing fitting clothes — along with practicing her new faith.
In addition, there aren’t many companies, if any at all, that would want to employ a hijab-wearing ballerina.
"There are no facilitations or services targeted at Muslim girls," the 14-year-old stated on her crowdfuding page. "In this day and age there is a lack of facilitations for youth who are disengaged or of a different religion or race."
Kurlow almost gave up on her dreams. However, she decided to continue following her path after inspiration from Michaela De Prince and Misty Copeland, who became the first African-American ballerinas, and Amna Al Haddad, the first Hijabi Emirati weight lifter, and Noor Tagouri, the first headscarf-wearing news anchor on American television.
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Kurlow has accomplished a lot over the past few years. More recently, she placed first in a Muslim talent show last year and was awarded the Most Inspirational Young Star in Sydney’s Youth Talent Smash competition. She was also a finalist in the ABC3’s RAWR competition.
Kurlow is now trying to raise money — $10,000AUD (nearly US$7,001) — which would help her to get into a professional ballet school. She hopes to help future generations of Muslim girls “to express and heal themselves and others through the magnificent art of performing and creativity.”
"I want to encourage everyone to join together no matter what faith, race or color," Kurlow said.