Who Is Kylie Jefferson? Here's What You Should Know About Tiny Pretty Things' Breakout Star
Dance-lovers, rejoice, because a dark new ballet drama has arrived on Netflix, and it's basically Pretty Little Liars meets Black Swan. Based on the YA book series of the same name by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, Tiny Pretty Things is set in the world of Chicago's only elite ballet academy, The Archer School, following a new girl who steps in after the school's star student is put out of commission by a mysterious accident.
That new girl is played by acting newbie Kylie Jefferson, who grew up training under the legendary Debbie Allen and who also appears in the Netflix documentary Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. Check out the gallery to learn more about the breakout star before you finish the series!
She's the Youngest Dancer Ever Accepted to the Debbie Allen Dance Academy
At the age of 6, Kylie was accepted to the prestigious Debbie Allen Dance Academy in LA, making her the youngest dancer ever to join the company. When asked during an interview with Black Girl Nerds what she learned from her experience, Kylie said she owes much of what she's learned to DADA. "No matter where I go in the world, no matter what type of job I've done, in some way, shape, or form, it always comes back to DADA and the people that either Miss Allen has gone out in the world to bring back to teach us or the family that has been created," she said.
She Experienced Racism at Boston Conservatory
After her time at DADA, Kylie was accepted to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where she graduated in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in contemporary dance. However, Kylie confessed during an interview with Dance Spirit magazine that her experience wasn't always positive and she dealt with her fair share of racism. "At the Boston Conservatory, girls were complaining to the head of the dance division about parts I was getting," she explained. "They said I was given them because I was Black. Don't they think I was aware of the stares or forced smiles they gave me when I did more turns than they did, or my arabesques got higher?"
She Choreographed a Music Video For ScHoolboy Q
In addition to being a dancer, Kylie is a skilled choreographer. When asked by Dance Spirit about her proudest career moment, she said it was choreographing rapper ScHoolboy Q's music video for "CHopstix" in 2019, which also featured Travis Scott. "I was able to hire friends I grew up dancing with — African-American women performing ballet exceptionally on TV," she told Dance Spirit. "It was the first time the community I grew up with and my craft were aligned." Kylie ended up receiving a Universal Dance Award nomination in the category of favorite music video performance for her work.
She's Had to Deal With a Broken Rib
Though it's unclear whether the accident happened while dancing, Kylie suffered a broken rib not too long ago, and she was still recovering from the injury while filming Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. "I was coming out of a rib fracture, so I was nervous," she told Black Girl Nerds. "I didn't talk about this in the documentary, but I was nervous because you can't fake ballet. If you haven't been doing it for a long time, it's something that will show. I specifically was doing two-a-day Pilates sessions on top of my rehearsals and stuff like that. Personally, some of us had to step up in ways that we probably didn't have to before."
She Thinks Black Ballerinas Should Stop Being Treated Like "Unicorns"
Kylie is often compared to fellow Black ballerina Misty Copeland, and as she pointed out during her interview with Black Girls Nerds, Black women really shouldn't be treated like "unicorns" in the dance world. "We've been here, we've been shining, there's Black ballerinas all throughout history," she said. "I always say this thing when people mention Misty Copeland. I'm like, 'You know what? If she's the Beyoncé of ballet, I'll take the Rihanna spot.' That's such a good way to say we don't have to be compared. I do respect and recognize [Copeland] for who she is. But we all play different roles in this."
For Kylie, she wants to be treated like a dancer, not just a Black dancer. "We're all here to represent different forms of Black women, but we're also human first and foremost," she added. "So I think the biggest thing for me is to be able to walk into a room and be seen as a human being first, not just a Black woman. Now, that is who I am. But I want to make sure that I'm treated as a woman and that every little Black girl who takes a ballet class is treated the same way."
Tiny Pretty Things Is Her First Acting Role
Kylie's role as Neveah Stroyer on Netflix's Tiny Pretty Things isn't just her first starring role — it's her first TV role ever. "As an actor, it's taught me that there's so much to learn in every single environment that you go into," Kylie told Black Girl Nerds when asked about the experience. "For me, my process, knowing that I was the one person in the room with the least amount of acting experience, I had to continue to learn from people . . . and to be a lot more observant. It also taught me a different level of opening up."