Drew Lovejoy, a biracial Jewish boy from Ohio, is breaking plenty of stereotypes. The 17-year-old high school student has made a name for himself in the world of Irish dance, winning the All Ireland Dancing Championship for the third year in a row.
The annual contest in Dublin marks one competitor as best in the world, and it’s a title Drew has gotten comfortable with. Born of a black Baptist father and white Jewish mother, the teen told the New York Times that Irish dancing has given him a place to feel confident.
Noting how people remember him from one competition to the next, he said he often hears shouts of, “It’s that black kid from America in the pink shirt.”
Living in a mostly-white rural town two hours outside Cincinnati, Drew’s mother Andee Goldberg said it hasn’t always been easy for her son to fit in.
“[He has] two lives, the Irish dance world and the real world where [he lives] every day,” she said. “[He] found a place [he’s] comfortable and people don’t look at [him] in a certain way.”
Drew was the victim of bullying growing up, leading to Goldberg’s pulling her son out of public school to study at home via computer courses. His mother goes on to say Drew’s Judaism has yet to be a problem in Ireland, though she admits it may be due to a lack of awareness.
“They don’t even know he’s Jewish," she said. “That hasn’t been broached. I think it would be too overwhelming.”
In 2010, Drew became the first non-white winner of the Dublin competition. He’s been dancing since he was a young child and practices at a dance studio two hours away. His dedication is so fierce, he once danced in a competition with seven broken toes.