Debbie Allen is an internationally recognized director/choreographer known for working with The Royal Shakespeare at Stratford and The Legendary Rahbani Family in Lebanon. A Culture Connect Ambassador, Ms. Allen represented the U.S. in visits to Brazil, China, Italy, and India. She is a member of the prestigious President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, a Board Member of the American Film Institute, and an Executive Committee member of UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television. Ms. Allen expands the opportunities in arts education for young people all over the world.
Ms. Allen holds the distinction of having choreographed the Academy Awards a record ten times, six in consecutive years. She directed and choreographed for legendary artists Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Gwen Verdon, Lena Horne, and Sammy Davis, Jr. to name a few.
Ms. Allen received the Golden Globe for her role as “Lydia Grant” in the hit series Fame, and is a three-time Emmy Award winner for Choreography for the series Fame and The Motown 25th Anniversary Special. Ms. Allen has won ten Image awards as a director, actress, choreographer and producer for Fame, A Different World, Motown 25th, The Academy Awards, The Debbie Allen Special, and Amistad.
In 1996, she produced the Steven Spielberg epic film Amistad. A much sought-after director and producer for television, her credits include Fame, Family Ties, Quantum Leap, The Twilight Zone, A Different World, The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air pilot, The Jamie Foxx Show, The Parkers, That’s So Raven, All of Us, Girlfriends, and Everybody Hates Chris. Her movies for television include Disney’s Polly and Polly Coming Home, the CBS classic Stompin’ At The Savoy and the critically acclaimed Old Settler starring Phylicia Rashad. Allen also directed the second-highest-rated original movie in Lifetime Channel history, Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story.
Ms. Allen received favorable notices for her role as Richard Pryor’s feisty wife in the semi-autobiographical film, Jojo Dancer, Your Life is Calling. Her other feature films include Milos Foreman’s Ragtime, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, which she also choreographed, and the recent 2009 version of the hit movie Fame.
Ms. Allen made her Broadway debut in the chorus of Purlie. She created the role of Beneatha in the Tony Award-winning musical Raisin. In the 1979 definitive revival of West Side Story, she received the prestigious Drama Desk Award, as well as her first Tony Award nomination. Ms. Allen received her second Tony Award nomination in 1986 for her performance in the title role of Bob Fosse’s Sweet Charity. In 1988, Ms. Allen went behind the scenes of the theatre to choreograph the new American musical Carrie with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 2001, Allen fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, California. Ms. 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. Ms. Allen has been able to use her prestige to lure instructors from famous institutions such as the Kirov Ballet and the Peking Opera. Her studio provides a safe haven for kids to go to after school where dance professionals motivate and teach them to excel in their style of dance. Ms. Allen plays an active role in each student’s career as a dancer by offering her own hands-on instruction.
Recently, Ms. Allen was asked to create and choreograph her most significant musical piece to date. This groundbreaking, dance-driven extravaganza explores the culture of Oman. At the center of the work are two young men—one Omani, another American. Through music composed by Grammy-winning trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, movement, song, and dance, they take a magical journey together and discover the similarities and the differences between their two cultures, and learn much about each other. The musical premiered to sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in March and made its Los Angeles debut in December of 2009.
Ms. Allen became Dr. Allen when she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the North Carolina School of the Arts, as well as from her Alma Mater, Howard University.
Ms. Allen is married to All-Star NBA World Champion Norman Nixon, and the proud mother of Vivian Nichole and Norman Jr. Her mother, Vivian Ayers, is a well-respected poet who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her first book of poetry, Spice of Dawns. She is sister to actress Phylicia Rashad, musician Andrew “Tex” Allen, and banker Hugh Allen.
In recognition of her amazing career in the entertainment industry, Ms. Allen was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame—the world’s most famous sidewalk. Ms. Allen’s Walk of Fame star is further proof of her life-long contribution in the entertainment arts, and it is a unique honor in a class by itself.