Debbie Allen to garner 2021 Television Academy’s Governors Award during Emmy Awards

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Debbie Allen [Kennedy Center photo]

The Television Academy has announced that entertainment industry trailblazer Debbie Allen will receive the 2021 Governors Award in recognition of her numerous contributions to the television medium through multiple creative forms and her philanthropic endeavors around the world.

The entertainment icon was chosen by the Television Academy’s Board of Governors for her unprecedented achievements in television and her commitment to inspire and engage marginalized youth through dance, theater arts and mentorship.

Allen will receive her Emmy statuette during the 73rd Emmy Awards telecast on Sept. 19.

The award honors an individual or organization in the television arts and sciences whose achievement is so exceptional and universal in nature that it goes beyond the scope of annual Emmy Awards recognition, according to a news release.

In a career spanning three decades, Allen remains one of the most honored and versatile artists in the entertainment industry. An internationally recognized dancer, choreographer, actress, writer, producer and director, Allen has choreographed the Academy Awards an unparalleled 10 times, holds four honorary doctorate degrees and was appointed by former President George W. Bush to represent the United States as a Cultural Ambassador of Dance.

“Debbie Allen has been a creative voice for a generation of performers and storytellers and has left an indelible mark on the television industry,” said Governors Award selection committee Co-Chair Eva Basler in a statement. “Debbie’s commitment to mentoring underserved communities has been nothing short of extraordinary. She has shared her gift and love of dance and choreography with countless aspiring performers across the globe,” added committee Co-Chair Debra Curtis.

Through the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, she has reached and enriched the lives of a legion of rising young dancers across the globe through world-class dance and theater training with a focus on providing comprehensive support for disenfranchised Black and Latino communities.

“This has been an amazing year for me,” said Allen in a statement. “To be celebrated by the Television Academy is an overwhelming honor that humbles me and says to my community of dancing gypsies, actors, writers and musicians that if you stay passionate about your craft and do the work, you can go far.”

Allen has choreographed for legendary artists such as Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Gwen Verdon, Carmen de Lavallade, Diane Carroll, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr., Dolly Parton and Savion Glover.

Her directing and producing credits include television classics such as “Fame,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Jane the Virgin,” “Empire,” “Insecure,” “A Different World,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Stompin’ At The Savoy,” “Polly,” “That’s So Raven,” “Cool Women,” “Quantum Leap,” “The Fantasia Barrino Story” and “Christmas on the Square.”

Allen has been an artist in residence at the Kennedy Center for more than 15 years, creating original works with the legendary Arturo Sandoval and James Ingram, including “Pepito’s Story,” “Brothers of the Knight,” “Dreams,” “Alex in Wonderland,” “Soul Possessed,” “Pearl,” “Dancing in the Wings” and “OMAN…O Man!”

Plus, she serves as executive producing director of “Grey’s Anatomy,” in which she stars in a recurring role as Dr. Catherine Fox.

In 2000, Allen opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy to expand the reach of dance and theater arts to marginalized students in Los Angeles and around the world through a comprehensive dance curriculum spanning numerous dance styles. Under Allen’s direction, the nonprofit school today provides services onsite to more than 3,000 participants annually; grants extensive scholarships to students; and invests in classes specially designed for cancer patients, seniors, and women and children who have experienced domestic abuse.

During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Allen is expanding her curriculum with the Debbie Allen Dance Academy Virtual Dance World, a series of custom and on-demand classes available through Zoom for a small donation.

A three-time Emmy Award winner in choreography (“Fame” and “The Motown 25th”), she also is a Kennedy Center Honoree and the recipient of 10 Image Awards, the Olivier Award, multiple Tony nominations, a Golden Globe and the Drama Desk Award.

The Governors Award debuted in 1978. Previous recipients include Tyler Perry; “Star Trek”; “American Idol”; William S. Paley; Hallmark Cards Inc.; “Masterpiece Theater”; Comic Relief; and ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and A+E networks.

The 73rd Emmy Awards will be broadcast on Sept. 19 on the CBS Television Network and will be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.


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