In a career that spans three decades, the name Debbie Allen is synonymous with dynamic energy, creative talent and innovation.
For her vast body of work, Ms. Allen has earned three Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, five NAACP Image Awards, a Drama Desk, and the first Astaire Award (for Best Dancer). Her production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on London's West End won the Olivier Award. She holds four honorary Doctorate degrees and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She was appointed by President George W. Bush to represent the United States as a Cultural Ambassador of Dance. She has been artist in residence at the Kennedy Center for over 15 years, writing and directing original works with the legendary Arturo Sandoval and James Ingram, such as: Pepito's Story, Brothers of the Knight, Dreams, Alex in Wonderland, Soul Possessed, Pearl, Dancing in the Wings, Oman O Man and Freeze Frame… Stop the Madness. Her stage credits also include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (on Broadway and London's West End).
Her long list of directing and producing credits include television classics such as Fame, Grey's Anatomy (where she also recurs as Dr. Catherine Avery), Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, Jane the Virgin, Empire, Insecure, A Different World, Everybody Hates Chris, Stompin' At The Savoy, Polly, That's So Raven, Cool Women, Quantum Leap, The Fantasia Barrino Story, and Christmas on the Square. She is currently the Executive Producing Director for Grey's Anatomy on its 17th season.
Ms. Allen was the creative force behind Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated epic, Amistad. She holds the distinction of choreographing the Academy Awards ten times.
She is influenced by the legendary artists who directed and trained her, among them: Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Donald McKayle, Gil Cates, Alan Johnson, Derek Walcott, Twyla Tharp, Tatiana Semenova, Louis Johnson, Jo Jo Smith, Mike Malone, Gerald Freedman, Henry LeTang, Willie Covan, Patsy Swayze and George Faison.
Ms. Allen has directed and choreographed such legendary artists as Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Will Smith, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Gregory Peck, Mariah Carey, Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton and Savion Glover.
With her keen eye for talent, Ms. Allen discovered entertainers such as Jada Pinkett Smith, Gary Dourdan, and Jasmine Guy. She was responsible for giving Mia Michaels her first job choreographing for television, on Cool Women.
A true devotee of Arts Education for young people, she has trained some of the most dynamic young talent on the scene today - Vivian Nixon, William Wingfield, Jada Grace Gordy, Taylour Paige, Dion Watson, Kylie Jefferson, Wayne Mackins, Chase Maxwell, Danny Tidwell, Corbin Bleu, and Hannah Blake.
Her recent Shondaland production of Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker on Netflix tells the true and inspiring story of what she does to enlighten, inspire and engage young people around the world through dance and theater arts.
In 2001, she and her husband Norman Nixon founded the nonprofit Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. The school's mission is to fill a void for youth who inhabit the spirit of dance and need the opportunity to discover what is possible.
Debbie Allen is the recipient of the 2021 Governors Award from the Television Academy.
A native of Houston, Texas, she is the daughter of poet Vivian Ayers and Dr. Andrew A. Allen, wife of NBA All-Star Norman Nixon, sister of Phylicia Rashad, Tex Allen and Hugh Allen, mother of Vivian Nichole and Thump, and grandmother of Shiloh and Aviah.