Robert Green Writes a Letter to His Teenage Self

December 27, 2020

You may know him from the Top 10 on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 14. You might have caught him touring the world with Taylor Swift. Or you might remember his viral video from 2015, where he revealed to his mom that he was cast in Swift’s 1989 World Tour.

Choreographer, dancer, and wardrobe stylist Robert Green is a North Carolina native who has always had an undeniable presence and a superstar quality that shines beyond his movement and into his personality and fashion. He’s worked with artists like Selena Gomez, The Weeknd and Sam Smith, just to name a few. In and outside of dance, Green is known for taking creative risks that make us say “wow” every time. Keep up with his content @StarOnStage for all kinds of inspiration and innovation.

Nyamekye Smith

A young Green poses for a photo (Clifford Thomas, courtesy Green)

Teenage Robert,

Look in the mirror.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering why you like Bach instead of basketball. You’re thinking your best isn’t good enough. You’re wishing you weren’t Black. But somehow, you still believe in yourself.

I’m not here to criticize those thoughts, because those questions will soon be ingredients in the recipe of finding yourself. A recipe of delicious discovery that is well worth the wait.

Keep looking in the mirror.

What a ride you are in for, young Robert. That violin that you practice every day is powerful. You think that it will solve your poverty and problems—it won’t. You also won’t become the first Black first-chair violinist in the North Carolina Symphony. But keep practicing, young man: That dedication and discipline is not in vain. In fact, it’s exactly what you’ll need once dance finds you.

Yep, you heard me right. You’ll become a professional dancer in Hollywood. You’ll also end up teaching thousands of dancers across the globe. Much of this will only be possible because your mother supports you in every way, every second of the day.

Look deeper into the mirror.

Behind those shy eyes is a ferocious greatness waiting to be unlocked. Your rich skin already carries the resilience you will need to succeed, even though it feels inconvenient.

You are brilliantly bold and beautifully Black.

You are dangerously and delicately designed.

I’m not writing you this letter to give you advice; I actually need more of what YOU have right now. Thank you for following your heart. Thank you for not giving up. BRB—going to find a mirror to repeat this to older Robert.