Speaker Bio

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Debbie Allen
Actress, Dancer, Choreographer, Television Director, & Television Producer

Debbie Allen, a BFA graduate of Howard University in Theater and Classical Greek Studies, is an award-winning director/choreographer who has choreographed the Academy Awards broadcast a record ten times. For the stage, television, and film, she has directed and choreographed for legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Gwen Verdon, Lena Horne, and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Ms. Allen received Best Actress Golden Globe for her role as Lydia Grant in the 1980s’ hit series Fame and is a three-time Emmy Award winner in choreography for Fame and the acclaimed 1983 special, Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever. Ms. Allen in the recipient of 10 NAACP Image Awards as a director, actress, choreographer and producer for Fame, A Different World, Motown 25, the Academy Awards, The Debbie Allen Special, and the Oscar-nominated Amistad.

Her directing credits include the very best of network television, including episodes of Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Jane the Virgin, and Empire. Currently, Ms. Allen serves as directing Executive Producer of Grey’s Anatomy, where she also holds a recurring role as Catherine Avery.

Ms. Allen has been artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center for more than 15 years, creating original works with the legendary Arturo Sandoval and James Ingram, such as Pepito’s Story, Brothers of the Knight, and Alex in Wonderland.

She is the daughter of Vivian Ayers and Dr. Andrew Allen, wife to NBA All-Star Norman Nixon and mother of Vivian and Thump.