'Rylie And Codie's World': Web Series Highlights The Hustle Of Young Black Ballerinas — And The Women Who Nurture Them

'Rylie And Codie's World': Web Series Highlights The Hustle Of Young Black Ballerinas — And The Women Who Nurture Them

For parents looking for an entertaining show that you can watch with your young daughters, look no further than Rylie and Codie’s World, a brand new web series just launched on YouTube. Cameras follow talented sisters, Rylie, 13, and Codie, 9, through their stomping grounds of Harlem as their momager, Stacie J., sees to it that they enjoy the normal facets of being kids all while navigating the competitive world of ballet as Black girls.

As a former model and The Apprentice alum, Stacie knows more than a thing or two about competition. She sees to it that her girls develop a healthy perspective about it by instilling in them a “go get it” attitude along with reality checks when necessary. “Big dreams are possible to achieve, but they won’t come fast and it won’t be easy,” she says. And with the current state of social media and reality TV giving the unrealistic impression that you can get what you want and where you want quick, fast and in a hurry, Rylie and Codie’s World shows what comes with dedicating yourself to hard work.

“I really wanted to write this story because I thought it would be important for both young Black girls, and their parents, to see themselves going after their dreams, living well, in the arts, and overcoming challenging situations with grace,” says writer and co-producer Erickka Sy Savane on what drew her to developing the project. “There’s a lot to this show, including the amazing, supportive relationship between Stacie J. and her girls. I feel it’s the show we need right now.” 

Rylie and Codie’s World

And there’s a lot to be inspired by when watching the girls. For Rylie, TikTok and play dates are just a couple of her favorite pastimes, but nothing gets in the way of the teen’s packed schedule of studying dance five to six days a week. Performing since she was 3, Rylie was 9 years old when she decided she wanted to be a ballerina, and in just a few years, her dream has grown wings. She received a full scholarship through her hero Misty Copeland’s Bridge Class program at the elite American Ballet Theater and says the greatest thing about that opportunity was getting to meet the world-class ballerina. “I was so excited when I met my idol!” she says. “It really was a dream come true and I still can hardly believe it.” Rylie is well on her way to being an icon, too, as she’s also the recipient of a Van Lier Fellowship, a full scholarship at the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Then there’s Codie, the younger, sassier half of the duo. Dancing since she was 2 years old, she manages to balance her dedication to her craft with her pursuit of entrepreneurship and creativity in another way: She makes bracelets. “One day a friend asked to buy one,” she says. “Since then, I’ve been selling a lot and that’s how my bracelet business got started.” Both girls go after their dreams with full tenacity, and that doesn’t solely include being elite ballerinas.

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But what good is a dance show without a no-nonsense Debbie Allen-esque dance instructor pushing the girls to their fullest potential? Robin Williams, a Detroit native and founder of the Uptown Dance Academy, which has been turning Harlem youth into stars since 1992, has served as the girls’ coach and mentor since they started dancing. Teaching them the value of a good work ethic and discipline is what she does best. Williams’ amazing work is featured throughout the series, as well as her challenge to afford her own studio space in gentrified Harlem.

The focus of the show is the girls, watching them dance, be kids and everything that falls in between that, which is fun to watch. However, this isn’t a fluffy show — it’s an important one.The series is refreshingly down to earth, very entertaining, and full of the kind of inspiring storylines that young Black girls don’t see themselves in nearly enough. Rylie and Codie’s World is also loaded with teachable moments about decision making, friendship, family, parent-child dynamics and more. You can view the first episode of Rylie and Codie’s World below and on YouTube. The nearly six-minute episodes, which fly by, premiere weekly.

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