Debbie Allen

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Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen

Photo credit: 
Marvin Joseph/Washington Post

Debbie Allen

Date of Birth

Birthday: January 16
Birthplace: Houston, Texas

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.
 

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.

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Awards & Nominations

20 Nominations | 5 Emmys | 1 Honor
Outstanding Choreography For Scripted Programming - 2021
  • Winner
  • Debbie Allen, Choreographer
  • Dolly Parton's Christmas On The Square
  • Netflix
  • Magnolia Hill Productions and Sandollar Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television for Netflix
Outstanding Television Movie - 2021
  • Winner
  • Debbie Allen, Executive Producer
  • Dolly Parton's Christmas On The Square
  • Netflix
  • Magnolia Hill Productions and Sandollar Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television for Netflix
Governors Award - 2021
  • Winner
  • Debbie Allen, Honoree
Debbie Allen and Kenan Thompson
Kylie Marie Jefferson and Debbie Allen
Kylie Marie Jefferson, Debbie Allen, Norm Nixon and Norm Nixon Jr. arrive at the 73rd Emmy Awards, September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Debbie Allen and Kylie Jefferson at the Winners' Walk at the 73rd Emmy Awards, September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Debbie Allen accepts the governors award at the 73rd Emmy Awards, September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Debbie Allen speaks to the press at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Debbie Allen at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Debbie Allen and Derek Hough at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Hudson Hickman, Debbie Allen, Sam Haskell, Maria S. Schlatter and Joe Lazarov at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Debbie Allen and Maria S. Schlatter pose for a portrait during the 2021 Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Debbie Allen accepts an award at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys.
Sam Haskell, Debbie Allen, Maria S. Schlatter, Hudson Hickman, and Joe Lazarov accept an award at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys.
Debbie Allen presents an award at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys.
2018 Choreographers Nominee Reception
2018 Choreographers Nominee Reception
2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
2017 Choreography Nominee Reception
2017 Choreography Nominee Reception
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Debbie Allen and Kenan Thompson
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Debbie Allen and Kenan Thompson take a selfie at the Television Academy Foundation's Giving Suite during the 73rd Emmy Awards

Kylie Marie Jefferson and Debbie Allen
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Kylie Marie Jefferson and Debbie Allen at the Television Academy Foundation's Giving Suite during the 73rd Emmy Awards

Kylie Marie Jefferson, Debbie Allen, Norm Nixon and Norm Nixon Jr. arrive at the 73rd Emmy Awards, September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Camera

Kylie Marie Jefferson, Debbie Allen, Norm Nixon, and Norm Nixon Jr. arrive at the 73rd Emmy Awards

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen and Kylie Jefferson at the Winners' Walk at the 73rd Emmy Awards, September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
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Debbie Allen with her Governors Awards and Kylie Jefferson on the Winners' Walk at the 73rd Emmy Awards

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen accepts the governors award at the 73rd Emmy Awards, September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
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Debbie Allen accepts the Governors Award at the 73rd Emmy Awards 

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen speaks to the press at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
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Debbie Allen, winner for Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming, at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys

 

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
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Debbie Allen, winner for Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming, at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen and Derek Hough at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
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Debbie Allen and Derek Hough at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys

Invision/AP
Hudson Hickman, Debbie Allen, Sam Haskell, Maria S. Schlatter and Joe Lazarov at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys, September 12, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
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Hudson Hickman, Debbie Allen, Sam Haskell, Maria S. Schlatter, and Joe Lazarov, winners for Outstanding Television Movie, at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen and Maria S. Schlatter pose for a portrait during the 2021 Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
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Debbie Allen and Maria S. Schlatter, winners for Outstanding Television Movie, at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmy Awards

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen accepts an award at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys.
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Debbie Allen, winner for Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming, at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys

Invision/AP
Sam Haskell, Debbie Allen, Maria S. Schlatter, Hudson Hickman, and Joe Lazarov accept an award at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys.
Camera

Sam Haskell, Debbie Allen, Maria S. Schlatter, Hudson Hickman, and Joe Lazarov, winners for Outstanding Television Movie, at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys

Invision/AP
Debbie Allen presents an award at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys.
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Debbie Allen, winner for Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming, at the 2021 Creative Arts Emmys

Invision/AP
2018 Choreographers Nominee Reception
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Chloe Arnold, Television Academy Chairman and CEO Hayma Washington and Debbie Allen at the Television Academy's 2018 Choreographers Nominee Reception at the Saban Media Center’s Wolf Theatre on Sunday, August 26, 2018 in North Hollywood, California.

Invision/AP
2018 Choreographers Nominee Reception
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Chloe Arnold and Debbie Allen at the Television Academy's 2018 Choreographers Nominee Reception at the Saban Media Center’s Wolf Theatre on Sunday, August 26, 2018 in North Hollywood, California.

Invision/AP
2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
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Debbie Allen, Kevin McKidd, and Gordon James attend the 24th Television Academy Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 at the Television Academy's Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California.

Invision/AP
2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
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Joe Morton, Debbie Allen, Phylicia Rashad, Anna Deavere Smith and James Pickens, Jr. attend the 24th Television Academy Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 at the Television Academy's Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California.

Invision/AP
2017 Choreography Nominee Reception
Camera

Debbie Allen and Fred Tallaksen attend the Choreography Nominee Reception at the Television Academy's Saban Media Center on Sunday, August 27, 2017, in the NoHo Arts District in Los Angeles.

Invision/AP
2017 Choreography Nominee Reception
Camera

Debbie Allen attends the Choreography Nominee Reception at the Television Academy's Saban Media Center on Sunday, August 27, 2017, in the NoHo Arts District in Los Angeles.

Invision/AP
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