From Orphan To Star Ballerina

Across America, it's Nutcracker season. The holiday classic fills the seats and the stage with children.

As CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports, there is no more sought-after role for a budding ballerina than that of Clara, the little girl carried away to a land of magic.

And 11-year-old Kenna Wright knows better than most about being carried away to a place where wishes come true.

"Its every girl's dream who does the Nutcracker, you wanna be Clara, you wanna be in the spotlight," she says.

Her life began as a struggle for survival in an orphanage in Ethiopia.

According to her mother, Mary Wright, "She was found in the streets at birth in Ethiopia and taken to the orphanage."

She was born 1991, when Ethiopia was seized by both a devastating famine and a brutal civil war. At the time, 7 million Ethiopians were facing starvation.

But then the orphaned girl was carried off to another world.

"They were down below with her escort pointing up at us and waving," says Mary.

Mary Wright of Sacramento, California had adopted her.

"The escort just hands you your child, and she was so tiny," Mary remembers.

"I was terrified, I was so nervous, I'd never even changed a diaper before" Mary tells Blackstone.

"It was something that God had planned. He made me for a special reason he made me so I could be in Ethiopia, then get adopted by loving parents," says Kenna with a smile.

Mary and Kenna's dad Pepper Von run a dance studio in Sacramento.

By the time Kenna was two, she was dancing -- quite a leap for a baby too weak to crawl when she was one.

"I actually thought, when I was little, I was the best. I could be in all those big tap dances. So I really believed in myself when I was little," says Kenna.

At 7, Kenna played a baby mouse in the Sacramento Ballet's annual Nutcracker. She's been part of the production every December since.

This year she was offered the starring role of Clara.

"When I saw her on the stage as Clara, I thought about that a lot, like where she came from. It was really emotional," says her mother.

"Of course mega proud dad, I think, 'that's my little girl'," says Von.

In this season of wishes when children's dreams come true, sometimes even the most beautiful make-believe can't match the magic of real life.

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

On Twitter

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App