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Debbie Allen
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Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen continues to be one of the most respected and versatile talents in the entertainment industry today.

Allen received favorable notices for her role as Richard Pryor's feisty wife in the semi-autobiographical film Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling. Her other feature films include Milos Forman's Ragtime and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, which she also choreographed.

Allen also directed the feature film Out of Sync, starring LL Cool J, Victoria Dillard, Yaphet Kotto and Howard Hesseman. Set in the underground world of rave music, this film told the story of a down-and-out DJ trying to get his life back on track. Allen produced Amistad with Steven Spielberg directing. She developed the story of Amistad for 10 years before the film's release. Allen received two Emmy's and one Golden Globe for her role as Lydia Grant in the hit series, Fame. She then forayed from acting to directing- first with the series Fame, followed by Family Ties and Bronx Zoo, before taking the reins at NBC's A Different World as director and producer in 1988. Steering the creative thinking toward pertinent issues on a college campus, Allen's leadership helped A Different World place in the top five consistently. This, among other credits, continued to establish Allen as one of the most sought-after director/producers in the television industry.

Allen got her start on Broadway in the chorus of the show Purlie, which brought her instant recognition. She then performed in Raisin and the 1979 production of West Side Story for which she received the prestigious Drama Desk Award and her first Tony nomination. Allen then received a Tony nomination in 1986 for her role as Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity and in 1988 went behind the scenes of the theater to choreograph the new American Musical Carrie with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Allen holds the distinction of having choreographed the Academy Awards for five consecutive years. In 1992, 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.

She is a board member of AFI and a member of the executive committee of the new board of advisors at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television where she directed a play on the UCLA campus titled Wedding Band.

Allen received the prestigious Essence Award in 1992 and in 1995, she received the first Lena Home Award for Career Achievement at the Soul Train Lady Awards Ceremony. Allen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Norman Nixon, and their two children, Vivian Nichole and Norman Jr.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Debbie Allen Facts

Birth Name Deborrah Kaye Allen
BirthdayJanuary 16, 1950 (74)
BirthplaceHouston, Texas, USA
Height5' 2" (1m57)  How tall is Debbie Allen compared to you?
Awards1983 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy (for Fame)

Selected Filmography

Not available.