Debbie K. Allen
Choreographer, Actor, Director
Founder, The Debbie Allen Dance Academy
Debbie K. Allen, a member since 2014, served as Alumni Trustee from 2011 to 2014. She is a globally-renowned director, choreographer and actor, and one of the most respected and versatile talents in the entertainment industry. A BFA graduate of Howard University with a minor in Classics, she worked with Joe Papp’s Public Theater and Woody King’s New Federal Theater, developing her skills early on as a director and choreographer. Her influences are the legendary artists who directed and trained her: 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, Henry LeTang and Willie Covan.
She is the recipient of three Emmy awards for choreography, and two Emmys and a Golden Globe for her role as “Lydia Grant” in the hit television series—Fame. She directed the series Fame, Family Ties and Bronx Zoo, before signing on as director and producer for NBC’s A Different World in 1988. She has extensive credits directing and producing for television, and has worked with Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., James Earl Jones, Don Cheadle, Terrance Howard, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Phylicia Rashad, Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson.
She produced the Oscar-nominated Steven Spielberg epic film Amistad in 1997, and has choreographed the Academy Awards a record 10 times. She played Beneatha in the Tony Award winning production A Raisin in the Sun, and portrayed Anita in West Side Story, winning the Drama Desk award as Best Actress in a Musical. For her work in the title role of Sweet Charity, she was honored as the first recipient of the Astaire Award as Best Dancer. Her critically acclaimed Broadway directorial debut was an African American production of Tennessee William’s classic, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. She has been Artist-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center for over 15 years developing major works, including Oman…O Man! Representing America as Cultural Ambassador for Dance, she has completed missions to China, India, and the Middle East. The founder of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, she devotes most of her life’s work to the development and motivation of young people in the Arts.