The Info List - Debbie Allen

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Deborrah Kaye "Debbie" Allen (born January 16, 1950) is an American actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer, and a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.[1][2] She is perhaps best known for her work on the 1982 musical-drama television series Fame, where she portrayed dance teacher Lydia Grant, and served as the series' principal choreographer. She currently portrays Catherine Avery on Grey's Anatomy. She is the younger sister of actress/director/singer Phylicia Rashad.


1 Life and career

1.1 Early life 1.2 Challenges with racism 1.3 Career 1.4 Awards and honors 1.5 Personal life

2 Work

2.1 Film 2.2 Television 2.3 Choreographer 2.4 Director 2.5 Producer 2.6 Writer 2.7 Dance

3 See also 4 References 5 External links

Life and career[edit] Early life[edit] Allen was born in Houston, Texas, the third child to orthodontist Andrew Arthur Allen Jr. and Pulitzer Prize-nominated artist, poet, playwright, scholar, and publisher, Vivian (née Ayers) Allen,[3] She went on to earn a B.A. degree in classical Greek literature, speech, and theater from Howard University. She holds honoris causa Doctorates from Howard University
Howard University
and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She currently teaches young dancers. She also taught choreography to former Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers
dancer-turned-singer, Paula Abdul. Her daughter, Vivian Nixon, played Kalimba in the Broadway production of Hot Feet. Challenges with racism[edit] After her trip with her family from Mexico, both Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
and her family decided to return to their permanent home in Texas. When she returned to her home in Texas, Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
auditioned at the Houston Ballet School at the age of twelve. Even though her audition performance exceeded beyond the qualifications of admission, Debbie Allen was denied admission to the school due to the color of her skin. After a year of hearing this devastating news, Allen was given another chance and was admitted by a Russian instructor who accidentally saw Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
perform in a show.[citation needed] Once admission recruiters from the Houston
Ballet School became aware of the situation, they allowed Allen to stay in the institution because they were pleased with the talent she had showcased. This is not the only incident Allen had experienced racism. When she was sixteen, she had a successful audition for the North Carolina School of the Arts, and was given an opportunity to demonstrate dance techniques to other prospective students applying to the institution. Unfortunately, Allen was rejected acceptance due to her body not being suited for ballet.[citation needed] In many cases, African American dancers were often discouraged from dance because they were told their body structure supposedly did not appear at the time to fit some preconception of a stereotypical ballet dancer's body: effectively prejudice by definition.[citation needed] After receiving numerous rejections, Allen decided to mainly focus on her academics and, from then on, was well on her way to the start of her career.[4] Career[edit]

Allen in 1983

Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
had her Broadway debut in the chorus of Purlie. Allen also created the role of Beneatha in the Tony Award-winning musical Raisin. She first began receiving critical attention in 1980 for her appearance in the role of Anita in the Broadway revival of West Side Story which earned her a Tony Award
Tony Award
nomination and a Drama
Desk Award, she would receive a second Tony Award
Tony Award
nomination in 1986 for her performance in the title role of Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity. One of her earlier television appearances was in the TV sitcom Good Times
Good Times
in a memorable 2-part episode titled "J.J.'s Fiancee'" as J.J.'s drug-addicted fiancée, Diana. Allen was first introduced as Lydia Grant in the 1980 film Fame. Although her role in the film was relatively small, Lydia would become a central figure in the television adaptation, which ran from 1982 to 1987. During the opening montage of each episode, Grant told her students: "You've got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying ... in sweat." Allen was nominated for the Emmy Award
Emmy Award
for Best Actress
four times during the show's run. She is the only actress to have appeared in all three screen incarnations of Fame, playing Lydia Grant in both the 1980 film and 1982 television series and playing the school principal in the 2009 remake.[citation needed] Allen was also lead choreographer for the film and television series, winning two Emmy Awards and one Golden Globe Award. In 1981, she had the important role of Sarah, the lover of Coalhouse Walker (Howard E. Rollins) who is killed while trying to defend him in the movie version of the best-selling novel Ragtime. The same role earned a Tony Award
Tony Award
for Audra McDonald, for her performance in the Broadway musical. In an article from the Museum of Broadcast Communications, The Hollywood Reporter commented on Allen's impact as the producer-director of the television series, A Different World. The show dealt with the life of students at the fictional historically black college, Hillman, and ran for six seasons on NBC.[5] Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
was also selected to appear in the 1979 miniseries Roots: The Next Generations by Alex Haley
Alex Haley
where she plays the wife of Haley. In 2008 she directed the all- African-American
Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring stage veterans James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones
(Big Daddy), her sister Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad
(Big Mama) and Anika Noni Rose
Anika Noni Rose
(Maggie the Cat), as well as film actor Terrence Howard, who made his Broadway debut as Brick. The production, with some roles recast, had a limited run (2009 – April 2010) in London.[6] Allen has released two solo albums, 1986's Sweet Charity
Sweet Charity
and 1989's Special
Look which also had several singles off the album. In 1995, Allen lent her voice (as well directing the voice cast) to the children's animated series C Bear and Jamal
C Bear and Jamal
for Film Roman
Film Roman
and Fox Kids. In 2001, Allen fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, California. Allen's academy offers a comprehensive curriculum for boys and girls ages four to eighteen in all the major dance techniques including Classical Ballet, Modern, African, Jazz, and Hip-Hop. In addition, special workshops are held for concentration in the Peking Opera, Martial Arts dance techniques, Flamenco, Salsa, and Tap. Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
was awarded an honorary doctorate from the North Carolina School of the Arts, as well as from her Alma Mater, Howard University. Since 2007, Allen has participated as a judge and mentor for the U.S. version of So You Think You Can Dance. She had to step aside at the end of Vegas week in Season 4 to avoid perception of bias, as one of her former dancers, Will, made it to the top 20. Awards and honors[edit]

Allen was appointed by President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
in 2001 as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.[7] For her contributions to the television industry, Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
was honored in 1991 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6904 Hollywood Boulevard in the center of Hollywood directly opposite the Dolby Theatre
Dolby Theatre
at Hollywood & Highland Center.[8] Allen was presented with the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, at the 1992 UCLA Spring Sing.[9] Three-time Emmy Award
Emmy Award
winner for Choreography for the series Fame and The Motown 25th Anniversary Special. 10 Image Awards as a director, actress, choreographer and producer for Fame, A Different World, Motown 25, The Academy Awards, The Debbie Allen Special
and Amistad. On February 4, 2009, Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
was honored for her contributions to dance and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Nia Peeples at The Carnival: Choreographer's Ball 10th anniversary show.[10]

Personal life[edit] Allen is married to former NBA player Norm Nixon,[11] and they have three children: dancer Vivian Nichole Nixon, basketball player Norman Ellard Nixon Jr. ( Wofford College
Wofford College
& Southern University), and DeVaughn Nixon. Allen was previously married to Win Wilford from 1975 to 1983.[12][13][14] She is the sister of actress/director/singer Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad
(with whom she once co-starred on an episode of The Cosby Show), and Tex Allen (Andrew Arthur Allen III, born 1945), noted jazz composer.[3] Work[edit]


Fame (2009 film)
Fame (2009 film)
– Principal Angela Simms Blank Check (1994) – Yvonne Ragtime (1981) – Sarah Fame (1980 film)
Fame (1980 film)
– Lydia Grant Next Day Air
Next Day Air
(2009) – Ms. Jackson The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
(1979) – Ola Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling (1986) – Michelle Alice At The Palace – Red Queen Stompin’ At The Savoy Old Settler The Twist Tournament of Dreams The Painting aka Soldiers of Change - Bertha Lee Gilmore


3 Girls 3: Variety show All of Us: "Parents Just Don't Understand" A Different World
A Different World
– Dr. Langhorne The Cosby Show
The Cosby Show
– Emma "Captain Bone-crusher" Newhouse Roots: The Next Generations – Nan Fame – Lydia Grant In The House – Jackie Warren Good Times
Good Times
– Diana (J.J.'s Junkie Fiancée) C Bear and Jamal
C Bear and Jamal
(voice) Spike Lee & Company: Do It a Cappella – Herself (Documentary) Quantum Leap
Quantum Leap
– Joanna Chapman So You Think You Can Dance, seasons 3, 4 and 5 – Guest Judge Grey's Anatomy
Grey's Anatomy
(2011–present) – Dr. Catherine Avery The Love Boat
The Love Boat
(1978 Dance Moms
Dance Moms
2016-2017 Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin
2016 – Beverly Flores


The Academy Awards
Academy Awards
Show for ten years, six of which were consecutive Carrie Molly Doodle Fame (2009)


With The Kids from "Fame"
The Kids from "Fame"
(1983). Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
is center, with sunglasses on top of her head.

Girlfriends Quantum Leap Everybody Hates Chris All of Us Life Is Not a Fairy Tale That's So Raven The Jamie Foxx Show A Different World The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Family Ties Fame (1982 TV series) Polly Polly: Coming Home Out-of-Sync C Bear and Jamal
C Bear and Jamal
(voice director) The Twilight Zone (2002 TV series) The Parkers Grey's Anatomy Hellcats Army Wives The Client List Let's Stay Together Scandal Jane the Virgin Insecure How to Get Away with Murder Empire Survivor's Remorse


Amistad with Steven Spielberg. Soldiers of Change with Michael Armand Hammer.


Movement magazine, regular columnist since 2006 Dancing in the Wings Paperback, by Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
(Author), Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)


West Side Story (Broadway) Dancing in the Wings Brothers of the Night Just Dance (2010) Dance Moms
Dance Moms

See also[edit]

The Kids from "Fame"


^ "Current Members". President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Archived from the original on January 16, 2005. Retrieved August 13, 2008.  ^ "Debbie Allen, Culver City, California". President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. 2008. Archived from the original on January 17, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2008.  ^ a b Lawrence, Muhammad. "One-woman dynamo". The Courier-Journal, September 12, 1999 ^ "Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Biography.com". Biography. Retrieved 2017-03-30.  ^ Darnell Hunt. "A Different World- U.S. Situation Comedy". Museum.tv. Archived from the original on February 10, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2008.  ^ Michael Billington (December 2, 2009) "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof", The Guardian ^ Transcript: Debbie Allen. Tavis Smiley
Tavis Smiley
PBS, March 21, 2008 ^ " Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
– Hollywood Walk of Fame".  ^ "Calendar & Events: Spring Sing: Gershwin Award". UCLA.  ^ "The Carnival: Getting The "Groove On" For 10 Years". Hollywire.com. February 2, 2009. Archived from the original on March 21, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012.  ^ Peter Vecsey (March 13, 2007). "BASN's Hometown Hero". blackathlete.net. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved April 12, 2008.  ^ PEOPLE: "AND BABY MAKES FOUR". – The Dallas Morning News. – September 2, 1987. ^ Dave Mackall (May 31, 2007) "Nixon fondly remembers Duquesne". – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. ^ Joseph Schiefelbein (October 17, 2008) "Spivery, Jaguars to begin practice", The Advocate.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Debbie Allen.

Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
PlaybillVault.com Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
at the Internet Broadway Database Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
on IMDb Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
at AllMovie Debbie Allen
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on Twitter
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interview video at the Archive of American Television

Awards for Debbie Allen

v t e

Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress
in a Musical

Donna Theodore
Donna Theodore
(1975) Vivian Reed (1976) Dorothy Loudon
Dorothy Loudon
(1977) Bobo Lewis / Swoosie Kurtz
Swoosie Kurtz
(1978) Merle Louise (1979) Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
(1980) Marilyn Cooper
Marilyn Cooper
(1981) Liliane Montevecchi
Liliane Montevecchi
(1982) Karla Burns (1983) Catherine Cox / Lila Kedrova
Lila Kedrova
(1984) Leilani Jones (1985) Jana Schneider
Jana Schneider
(1986) Jane Summerhays (1987) Joanna Gleason
Joanna Gleason
(1988) Randy Graff
Randy Graff
(1990) Karen Ziemba (1991) Barbara Walsh (1992) Andrea Martin
Andrea Martin
(1993) Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
(1994) Rachel York (1996) Lillias White (1997) Tsidii Le Loka
Tsidii Le Loka
(1998) Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth
(1999) Karen Ziemba (2000) Cady Huffman
Cady Huffman
(2001) Harriet Sansom Harris (2002) Jane Krakowski
Jane Krakowski
(2003) Isabel Keating (2004) Jan Maxwell
Jan Maxwell
(2005) Beth Leavel
Beth Leavel
(2006) Debra Monk
Debra Monk
(2007) Laura Benanti (2008) Haydn Gwynne
Haydn Gwynne
(2009) Katie Finneran
Katie Finneran
(2010) Laura Benanti (2011) Judy Kaye (2012) Andrea Martin
Andrea Martin
(2013) Anika Larsen / Lauren Worsham (2014) Renée Elise Goldsberry
Renée Elise Goldsberry
(2015) Jane Krakowski
Jane Krakowski
(2016) Jenn Colella
Jenn Colella

v t e

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography (1976–2000)

Tony Charmoli (1976) Ron Field (1977) Ron Field (1978) Kevin Carlisle (1979) Alan Johnson (1980) Walter Painter (1981) Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
(1982) Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
(1983) Michael Smuin (1984) Twyla Tharp
Twyla Tharp
(1985) Walter Painter (1986) Michael Peters and Dee Dee Wood (1987) Alan Johnson (1988) Walter Painter / Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul
(1989) Paula Abdul, Dean Barlow, and Michael Darrin (1990) Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
(1991) Paul Taylor (1992) Michael Peters (1993) Linda Talcott (1994) Ulysses Dove (1995) Anita Mann and Charonne Mose (1996) Marguerite Derricks / Sarah Kawahara (1997) Marguerite Derricks and Peggy Holmes (1998) Judith Jamison / Marguerite Derricks (1999) Rob Marshall
Rob Marshall

Complete list (1950–1975) (1976–2000) (2001–present)

v t e

Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress
– Television Series Musical or Comedy

Donna Reed
Donna Reed
(1962) Inger Stevens
Inger Stevens
(1963) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1964) Anne Francis
Anne Francis
(1965) Marlo Thomas
Marlo Thomas
(1966) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1967) Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll
(1968) Carol Burnett/ Julie Sommars
Julie Sommars
(1969) Mary Tyler Moore
Mary Tyler Moore
(1970) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1971) Jean Stapleton
Jean Stapleton
(1972) Cher/ Jean Stapleton
Jean Stapleton
(1973) Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper
(1974) Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman
(1975) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1976) Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
(1977) Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin
(1978) Linda Lavin
Linda Lavin
(1979) Katherine Helmond
Katherine Helmond
(1980) Eileen Brennan
Eileen Brennan
(1981) Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen
(1982) Joanna Cassidy
Joanna Cassidy
(1983) Shelley Long
Shelley Long
(1984) Estelle Getty/ Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd
(1985) Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd
(1986) Tracey Ullman
Tracey Ullman
(1987) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1988) Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis
(1989) Kirstie Alley
Kirstie Alley
(1990) Candice Bergen
Candice Bergen
(1991) Roseanne Barr
Roseanne Barr
(1992) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1993) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1994) Cybill Shepherd
Cybill Shepherd
(1995) Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt
(1996) Calista Flockhart
Calista Flockhart
(1997) Jenna Elfman
Jenna Elfman
(1998) Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker
(1999) Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker
(2000) Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker
(2001) Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston
(2002) Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker
(2003) Teri Hatcher
Teri Hatcher
(2004) Mary-Louise Parker
Mary-Louise Parker
(2005) America Ferrera
America Ferrera
(2006) Tina Fey
Tina Fey
(2007) Tina Fey
Tina Fey
(2008) Toni Collette
Toni Collette
(2009) Laura Linney
Laura Linney
(2010) Laura Dern
Laura Dern
(2011) Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham
(2012) Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler
(2013) Gina Rodriguez
Gina Rodriguez
(2014) Rachel Bloom
Rachel Bloom
(2015) Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross
(2016) Rachel Brosnahan
Rachel Brosnahan

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 49417391 LCCN: n87817324 ISNI: 0000 0001 1443 5847 BNF: cb13985449f (data) MusicBrainz: 75f98f88-bd76-4623-bc26-a2befef3a