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In a career spanning four decades and five continents, Debbie Allen is one of the most celebrated dance teachers in the world. From her humble beginnings as an Oklahoma farm girl to her diverse cast of characters in Fame, the award-winning show set in New York City, she bridged the gap between the urban and rural worlds and became a cultural icon.
Allen is best known for her work in the musical-drama television series Fame (1982-1987), where she portrayed dance teacher Lydia Grant, and served as the series' principal choreographer. For this role in 1983 she received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy and two Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography and was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Allen later began working as director and producer, most notably producing and directing 83 of 144 episodes of NBC comedy series A Different World (1988-1993). She returned to acting playing the leading role in the NBC sitcom In the House from 1995 to 1996, and in 2011 began playing Dr. Catherine Avery in the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy also serving as an executive producer/director.
Her experience at the Houston Ballet Academy is not the only time Allen had experienced racism. When she was sixteen, she had a successful audition for the North Carolina School of the Arts, and was given an opportunity to demonstrate dance techniques to other prospective students applying to the institution. Unfortunately, Allen was refused admission, and was told her body was not suited for ballet. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)
Actress, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen hit it big in 1980, starring in a Broadway revival of West Side Story. Her performance earned her a Tony nomination and landed her a role as a dance instructor in the movie Fame (1980). The film evolved into a successful television spin-off in 1982, in which Allen co-starred and won three Emmy awards for choreography. In 2001, Allen opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. She also made other appearances on TV, starring in In the House and Grey's Anatomy.
The critics agree—Debbie Allen is impossible to typecast. “I’m an artist,” she told the New York Times. That’s probably the shortest definition for this dynamic and multifaceted performer, who is known as an actress, dancer, singer, choreographer, director, and producer. She has been blessed not only with boundless talent, but with a dedication and zeal that she brings to every project. She believes firmly in the value of hard work, and scoffs at the idea of fate. Good things happen, she knows, if you are ready when opportunity knocks. (Source: www.encyclopedia.com)