January 16, 1950 Deborrah Kaye Allen, actress, choreographer, director, and producer, was born in Houston, Texas.
Allen earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in classical Greek literature, speech, and theater in 1971 from Howard University and made her Broadway debut in the chorus of “Purlie” in 1972. In 1980, her appearance in the Broadway revival of “West Side Story” earned her a Tony Award nomination and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Artist in a Musical.
That same year, she appeared in the film “Fame” and from 1982 to 1987 she appeared in the television series of the same name, winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography in 1982 and 1983 and the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series-Comedy/Musical. She also won the 1991 Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography for “Motown 30: What’s Goin’ On!” In 2001, Allen opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, California offering a comprehensive curriculum for boys and girls in all the major dance techniques.
Also in 2001, she was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. In 2008, Allen directed the all-African American Broadway production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Allen has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to the television industry and has been awarded honorary doctorates by the North Carolina School of the Arts and Howard University.
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