Three Trailblazers Talk Balancing Career and Personal Missions

For a woman at the top of her game, it takes confidence, self-reflection and talent to get where she wants to be. She wears many different hats, from friend and caretaker to boss and leader, somehow finding time for self-care, too. It’s not an easy feat.

Speaking to Breitling’s Spotlight Squad, including American ballet dancer Misty Copeland, award-winning actress and producer Charlize Theron, and Chinese actress and philanthropist Yao Chen, here’s a look at how these successful and world-renowned artists balance the duality of life as a modern woman.

Misty Copeland

misty copeland for breitling

Photo by Masha Maltsava for Breitling

I think it’s incredible to be able to have a platform and have a voice where I can be heard.

Having made history as the first African-American female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theater, Misty Copeland’s career has grown rapidly from the day she tried on her first pair of ballet shoes at the age of 13. Today, she’s considered one of the most talented ballerinas in the world.

Copeland embraces the highs of her life as a classical ballerina, while also using her platform to nurture dialogues around representation, diversity, and inclusion in the dance world.

misty copeland for breitling


“I love what I do. I love performing. I love the process and the journey of rehearsal and all of the ups and downs that come with that—and that come with life. I think it’s incredible to be able to have a platform and have a voice where I can be heard by so many. I think that’s something that’s been my life’s work, speaking pretty openly and candidly about race and racism in ballet.

“Even through all of the obstacles and adversity throughout my career, what’s kept me believing in myself, I think, is having people believe in me and just knowing that there’s so much that simply being on the stage as a brown body can do for so many generations to come in classical dance. And that’s a pretty powerful position to be in and something that I don’t take for granted.”

Like Breitling watches, Copeland understands the importance of balancing time—in her case to get the best out of her personal and professional life. “I think that not only just being on time, but also being aware of the value of time means I make sure I find the time to take care of myself personally, as well as find time for my family and friends.”

Charlize Theron

charlize theron and breitling

Charlize Theron and Breitling


The question of stepping outside of your comfort zone is one that I think all artists think about.

Charlize Theron is one of the world’s most well-known actresses and producers, whose talent has landed her an array of awards. Though early films included The Devil’s Advocate and The Cider House Rules, her fame reached new peaks when she became the first South African actor to win an Academy Award, for Monster in 2004. She has since starred in blockbusters such as Mad Max: Fury Road and Atomic Blonde.

Theron considers her accomplishments a result of pushing herself out of her comfort zone and always taking on fresh challenges. “The question of stepping outside of your comfort zone is one that I think all artists always think about. And to some degree, I think it’s impossible to create anything without doing that. So the idea of constantly having something to keep you on your toes is something that I love about my job.”

charlize theron for breitling


Despite having achieved global recognition in her first roles in the 1990s, Theron still grapples with the demands of fame, balancing her personal life with the reality of her position as a celebrity.

“The construct of celebrity is a very, very strange one for me. I do think a lot of it has to do with the way I was raised. I grew up in a very, very small town where we didn’t have a lot of television and we didn’t have reading materials. My career has always been somewhat foreign to me. But I’ve definitely come to appreciate it for the things that I can do with it and I try to utilize it as much as I possibly can for those things.”

Theron learns from her past and present experiences in everything she does. Commenting on herself and her Breitling watch, she says, “I think for me, like everything in my life, there’s a versatility to it.”

Yao Chen

yao chen for breitling


You don’t want to be defined by people’s labels.

An accomplished Chinese actress and philanthropist, Yao Chen’s name has landed on the Time 100 list, and she’s been listed as 83rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Outside of her professional life, Chen is also a social activist, using her platform to raise funds for various charity projects.

Despite her immense successes, she isn’t without self-doubt in her career. “Right now, I’m more clear about my goals and what I want to do in the future than I was in the past. I’m more certain about my choices. However, as an actress, I continue to doubt myself. Because only through such constant self-doubt can I enrich myself and have the opportunity to create more and more interesting roles.”

Always eager to grow as an artist, Chen believes that maintaining a balance between confidence in her accomplishments and openness to new challenges is the true key to success.

yao chen for breitling


“You don’t want to be defined by people’s labels, you want to try to expand your own boundaries. In the process of this experiment, you are bound to experience many failures, cynicism, and disapproval. It’s the experience that makes you stronger. Because only when you have gone through a lot of trial and error, do you have a chance at success.”

Just as the modern woman balances skill and style, so do Breitling’s watches. Chen highlights the way that time has been a quiet observer in her life and career: “Time has witnessed my life bit by bit, my love, my thinking, my confusion. It has also witnessed my growth—it is the most faithful witness.”

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