BY WALTER OPINDE
Born Deborrah Kaye Allen, “Debbie” is an American actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer, and a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Allen was born on 16th January, 1950. She is perhaps best known for her work on the 1982 musical-drama television series Fame, where she portrayed dance teacher- Lydia Grant and served as the series’ principal choreographer. She currently portrays Catherine Avery on Grey’s Anatomy. She is the younger sister of actress/director/singer Phylicia Rashad.
Allen landed one of her highest-profile drama series directing gigs to date in 2010 when she helmed three episodes of Grey’s Anatomy‘s sixth season. This led to a recurring role on the series as Jackson Avery’s mum. Multi-tasking talent is a trademark of Shondaland series, with Eric Stolz directing an episode of Private Practice before appearing in Grey’s and Dan Buchatinsky serving as a writer on Grey’s and co-star on Scandal. Debbie Allen rose to fame with “Fame,” serving as a director, producer and choreographer. She was also the first black woman to be Emmy-nominated in the dramatic lead actress category. More than three decades later, she has a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and is a frequent director. She is currently the exec producer of the show. “It’s a little crazy, but what a great life,” Allen tells Variety. “I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof that somehow landed on all fours.”
Allen went on to direct four more episodes of Grey’s as well as episodes of the other two Shondaland/ABC Studios dramas for ABC, Scandal and How To Get Away with Murder. This season, she was a director on three of the most buzzed-about new broadcast hour-long series, HTGAWM, Fox’s Empire, in which she directed the season finale, and the CW’s Jane the Virgin. Allen is currently in Atlanta where she is directing an episode of the Starz series Survivor’s Remorse.
In addition to executive producing and directing multiple episodes of Grey’s next season, Allen will continue to recur as Catherine Avery. Elsewhere, Rob Corn, an actor colleague, has previously served as executive producer/director on the show.
Allen, who started her career as a dancer, choreographer and Broadway actress until becoming a household name as the star of Fame, is the founder of Los Angeles-based DADA (Debbie Allen Dance Academy) with her husband, Norm Nixon. During the summer of 2016, she was invited to direct a group of high school seniors as part of the Presidential Scholars program honoring aspiring artists nationwide, with an original program to be presented at the Kennedy Center.
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