Kristin Finley, the lone black female trapezista, or trapeze artist, for the world famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus left a secure job to chase her dreams. As one of the few Black women to ever thrill audiences from the skies, Finley is a living inspiration to young people with similar aspirations.
Finley, a Los Angeles native and graduate of James Monroe High School, was a former member United States Air Force and a mechanic. While working for major beer company Anheuser-Busch, Finley was drawn to trapeze work after taking a class. After deciding to pursue a career as an aerial performer, Finley took classes five days a week while working nights.
Finley was considered too old for the trapeze, and she also lacked a background in gymnastics that most other aerial artists have. Finley perserered through those obstacles and willed herself into a trapezista. After stints at smaller circuses, Finley was hired by Ringling and is reportedly the only active Black trapeze artist.