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Elaine DePrince  

Mother of Sierra Leonean-American Ballet Dancer, Michaela DePrince; Author, Speaker, Educator, Advocate & Activist

Author, speaker, educator, advocate and activist, Elaine DePrince is showing the world how to defy the odds and achieve greatness. After surviving the death of her three sons, DePrince found a way to turn tragedy into triumph by devoting herself to rescuing children from war torn countries and using her experiences to change in the world. DePrince’s commitment and compassion as well as her ingenious approach to recognizing and cultivating greatness, helped her raise children who not only survived their circumstances, but also thrived to become champions.

In 2014 Knopf Books released the award-winning TAKING FLIGHT. This young adult memoir, which has consistently earned 5-star reviews, was written by DePrince with her daughter Michaela. BALLERINA DREAMS, a Step into Reading book, released in 2014 by Random House Children’s Books, also earned 5-star reviews by readers. Both books tell the inspirational story of how DePrince and her husband, Charles, helped their daughters escape from Sierra Leone at the height of its brutal civil war. They share the sacrifices of the parents and the struggles of Michaela as she fought to overcome adversity in her native Sierra Leone, cultural challenges, racism, and stereotypes to achieve her dream of becoming a world-renowned professional ballerina. The family’s story of triumph has received international acclaim and has been featured in Forbes, CNN, Teen Vogue, ABC News, Huffington Post, CBS News, and the New York Times.

DePrince is also the author of the book CRY BLOODY MURDER (Random House, 1997), which also earned 5-star reviews. In this powerful book DePrince shares her family’s struggle to cope with AIDS and provide her children with love, guidance, and adequate healthcare while searching for the reason why 10,000 boys with hemophilia in the U.S. contracted HIV from the contaminated blood products. Now required reading for medical and law students at prestigious universities, CRY BLOODY MURDER had a tremendous impact on federal and state legislation to improve blood safety and compensate HIV/infected hemophiliacs for the tragedy that befell them.

As a motivational speaker DePrince empowers women, children, families and entire communities to stand up for their beliefs and reach for their dreams. Her life experiences have provided her with a unique insight into child rearing, coping with grief, overcoming adversity, and advocacy, which can help individuals, families and entire communities to overcome obstacles, defy the odds and achieve greatness.

In 2015 DePrince launched a nationwide motivational movement called “Defy Gravity” through which she shares her family’s experiences and translates them into real-life solutions and strategies to help her audiences tap into their own greatness and achieve their dreams.

Speech Topics

Defy Gravity

Defy Gravity is a nationwide motivational tour challenging individuals of all backgrounds to be empowered and activate positive change in their lives. Elaine DePrince, joined at times by her daughters Mia and Michaela DePrince, shares with audiences their awe-inspiring story of turning tragedy into triumph. As a riveting motivational speaker, Elaine uses powerful and insightful anecdotes from personal experience to empower individuals to make their dreams a reality.

Through partnerships with national non-profit and advocacy organizations, Defy Gravity also provides individuals, organizations, and communities with the inspiration and resources needed to immediately take action and transform their lives, their families, and their communities.


For Michaela DePrince, a Dream Comes True at the Dutch National ...

This account comes from her memoir, which she wrote with her mother, Elaine DePrince, who adopted Mabinty soon after the trade winds blew through the gate .

'Taking Flight,' by Michaela DePrince with Elaine DePrince - The ...

DePrince has an amazing story to tell, and without her seemingly selfless mother and co-author, Elaine DePrince, she wouldn't be here to tell it. Elaine DePrince ...

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