Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen Headshot

Actress • Dancer

Birth Date: January 16, 1950

Age: 74 years old

Birth Place: Houston, Texas

Siblings: Phylicia Rashad

With notable credits on stage as an actress and on TV as an actor, producer, director and choreographer, Debbie Allen has become one of the more diversified talents in TV. The career of this dynamic, award-winning singer-dancer has been an inspirational beacon to Black women in the entertainment industry. On Broadway, Allen was a fiery Anita in the 1980 revival of "West Side Story" and a high-kicking prostitute with a heart of gold in Bob Fosse's 1986 revival of "Sweet Charity." She began appearing regularly on TV in the mid-1970s in guest shots, summer replacement series, variety specials and TV-movies. Featured as hard-driving dance teacher Lydia Grant in the film "Fame" (1980), she reprised the greatly expanded role on the critically acclaimed TV series (NBC, 1982-83; first-run syndication, 1983-87) which she also choreographed.

Allen joined the already popular "Cosby Show" spin-off, "A Different World" (NBC, 1987-93), during its second season as producer and primary director. Under her guidance, the show found its focus, hit its stride and became a ratings powerhouse. Along with Cosby, Allen became one of contemporary TV's leading proponents of Black bourgeois values. She has numerous directing credits on such family-oriented sitcoms as "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," and "The Sinbad Show." She also helmed the 1990 NBC pilot for the hit sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Allen also proved adept as a director of hour long TV drama with two episodes of "Quantum Leap."
Allen may be most widely known to international audiences as the choreographer of the annual Academy Awards presentations since 1991. Though the sometimes unseemly and vulgar production numbers have received their share of critical brickbats, several linger in the memory for their sheer audacity.

Allen returned to the regular grind of a weekly sitcom as the co-star, opposite rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J, of "In the House" (NBC, 1995-96), a family sitcom about a once wealthy divorced mother who finds herself sharing a household with a former pro football player. Her feature acting credits include Milos Forman's "Ragtime" (1981), Richard Pryor's semi-autobiographical "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling" (1986) and the Disney family comedy "Blank Check" (1994).

Since the 80s, Allen has been more active behind the camera, helming the Disney musical comedy remake "Polly" (NBC, 1989) and its 1990 sequel "Polly Comin' Home!" (both of which featured her sister Phylicia Rashad) and the feature "Out of Sync" (1995). She also provided choreography for Billy Crystal's "Forget Paris" (1995). In 1997, Allen realized a long-held dream of producing the film "Amistad," directed by Steven Spielberg, which recounted the story of an 1839 revolt on a Spanish slave ship and court battle for the Africans freedom.

Credits

The Jennifer Hudson Show

Guest
Talk
2022

Access Daily With Mario & Kit

Guest
Show
2022

Inside the Black BoxStream

Self
Talk
2022

Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens RisingStream

Self
Special
2022

Janet Jackson.Stream

Self
Docuseries
2022

It's a Different World: Reunion Road Trip

Self
Show
2021

The 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors

Self
Show
2021

Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate NutcrackerStream

Actor
Movie
2020

GMA3: What You Need to Know

Guest
Show
2020

Dolly Parton's Christmas on the SquareStream

Director
Movie
2020
64%

Dolly Parton's Christmas on the SquareStream

Executive Producer
Movie
2020
64%

The Kelly Clarkson ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2019

Access Daily

Guest
Show
2019

Tamron HallStream

Guest
Talk
2019

Today With Hoda & Jenna

Guest
Show
2019

Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back

Executive Producer
Movie
2019

Today 3rd Hour

Guest
Show
2018

Black Hollywood: They've Gotta Have Us

Guest
Show
2018

Step Up: High Water

Director
Show
2018

S.W.A.T.Stream

Guest Star
Charice Harrelson
Series
2017

Daily Blast Live

Guest
Show
2017

STEVE on Watch

Guest
Talk
2017

Raven's HomeStream

Guest Star
Aunt Maureen
Series
2017

InsecureStream

Director
Series
2016
97%

FABLife

Guest
Talk
2015

Jane The VirginStream

Director
Series
2014
100%

Jane The VirginStream

Guest Star
Series
2014
100%

Survivor's RemorseStream

Director
Series
2014
97%

How to Get Away With MurderStream

Director
Series
2014
88%

Hollywood Today Live

Guest
Show
2014

The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

Director
Movie
2014

The Queen Latifah Show

Guest
Talk
2013

The Real

Guest
Talk
2013

The Real

Host
Talk
2013

A Star for Rose

Actor
Rose
Movie
2013

Oprah: Where Are They Now?Stream

Guest
Talk
2012

Home & Family

Guest
Talk
2012

The Ricki Lake Show

Guest
Talk
2012

The Client ListStream

Director
Series
2012
68%

ScandalStream

Director
Series
2012
93%

CBS This Morning

Guest
Show
2012

Let's Stay Together

Guest Star
Show
2011

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

Access Hollywood Live

Guest
Show
2010

Hellcats

Director
Show
2010

My Parents, My Sister & Me

Producer: USA
Show
2010

Move

Actor
Movie
2010

The Mo'Nique Show

Actor
Show
2009

ES.TV

Guest
Show
2009

Gospel Music Presents: Great Performances

Host
Show
2009

FameStream

Actor
Principal Simms
Movie
2009
23%

Next Day Air

Actor
Ms. Jackson
Movie
2009

To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbé

Guest
Show
2008

Army WivesStream

Director
Series
2007

The Better Show

Guest
Show
2007

Tournament of Dreams

Actor
Rhonda Dillins
Movie
2007

The GameStream

Director
Series
2006

The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale

Director
Movie
2006

그레이 아나토미

Director
Show
2005

그레이 아나토미

Executive Producer
Show
2005

Everybody Hates ChrisStream

Director
Series
2005
95%

Everybody Hates ChrisStream

Guest Star
Mother
Series
2005
95%

So You Think You Can DanceStream

Guest
Reality
2005

So You Think You Can DanceStream

Judge
Reality
2005

Grey's AnatomyStream

Director
Series
2005
84%

Grey's AnatomyStream

Executive Producer
Series
2005
84%

Grey's AnatomyStream

Guest Star
Series
2005
84%

Tavis Smiley

Guest
Talk
2004

All of UsStream

Director
Series
2003

All of UsStream

Guest Star
Series
2003

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Guest
Talk
2003

That's So RavenStream

Director
Series
2003

The Twilight ZoneStream

Director
Series
2002

PBS Hollywood Presents

Actor
Show
2001

PBS Hollywood Presents

Director
Show
2001

The Old Settler

Actor
Show
2001

The Old Settler

Director
Show
2001

The Painting

Actor
Bertha Lee Gilmore
Movie
2001

All About You

Actor
Ruth
Movie
2001

GirlfriendsStream

Director
Series
2000

Everything's Jake

Actor
Librarian
Movie
2000

The ParkersStream

Director
Series
1999

Michael Jordan: An American Hero

Actor
Deloris Jordan
Movie
1999

Linc's

Director
Show
1998

AmistadStream

Original Song
Movie
1997
78%

AmistadStream

Producer
Movie
1997
78%

CosbyStream

Guest Star
Series
1996

The Jamie Foxx ShowStream

Director
Series
1996

In the HouseStream

Actor
Series
1995

Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child

Voice
Show
1995

Out of Sync

Director
Movie
1995

Touched by an AngelStream

Guest Star
Series
1994

Blank Check

Actor
Yvonne
Movie
1994

Mona Must Die

Actor
Betty
Movie
1994

The Essence Awards

Self
Show
1992

Manhattan Savoy

Director
Movie
1992

Stompin' at the Savoy

Director
Movie
1992

The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirStream

Director
Series
1990

Quantum LeapStream

Director
Series
1989

Quantum LeapStream

Guest Star
Joanna Chapman
Series
1989

Polly

Director
Movie
1989

A Different WorldStream

Guest Star
Series
1987

Emmanuel Lewis: My Very Own Show

Guest
Show
1987

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling

Actor
Michelle
Movie
1986

Motown Returns to the Apollo

Guest
Show
1985

The Cosby ShowStream

Guest Star
Series
1984

Women of San Quentin

Actor
Carol Freeman
Movie
1983

Loretta Lynn in the Big Apple

Guest Star
Show
1982

Family TiesStream

Director
Series
1982

Fame

Actor
Lydia Grant
Series
1982

Fame

Director
Series
1982

Fame

Producer
Series
1982

The 35th Annual Tony Awards

Self
Show
1981

RagtimeStream

Actor
Sarah
Movie
1981
83%

Ebony, Ivory and Jade

Actor
Claire `'Ebony'` Bryant
Movie
1979

The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened

Actor
Julie Sutton
Movie
1977

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

Good TimesStream

Guest Star
Diana Buchanan
Series
1974

Today

Guest
News
1952

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