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Allen, Debbie (1950–)

television fame film directed

ALLEN, DEBBIE (1950–). Dancer, actress, producer, director, choreographer. She was born in Houston, Texas, and educated at Howard University in Washington, D. C. Allen began her dancing career in Broadway musicals before moving on to television and films. Her performance in the 1979 stage production of West Side Story earned her a Drama Desk Award, plus a Tony Award nomination. She received a second Tony nomination for her performance in the 1986–87 production on Sweet Charity . Allen’s success on stage led to television guest appearances in popular sitcoms, such as Good Times and The Love Boat , as well as the TV miniseries Roots: The Next Generation . Other TV appearances include the 1977 NBC series 3 girls 3 , the 1980s hit series Fame , and the 1985 sitcom In the House . Allen became the first African American woman hired as a director by a major network for a prime time show when she directed several episodes of Fame . She later cowrote, produced, directed, choreographed, and starred in her own 1989 variety show The Debbie Allen Special , for ABC, for which she received two Emmy nominations for direction and choreography. Allen took over the reins as a producer/director of the Cosby Show spin-off A Different World , and turned it into a long-running series by addressing important social and political issues within the comedic plot lines. In television, she has also directed the made-for-TV movies Pollyanna , and Stompin’ at the Savoy , as well as the pilot episode of the hit sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air . Allen choreographed the dance numbers for the 1982 Academy Awards. In film, she acted in and choreographed the cheerleading routines for the basketball flick The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh , 1979, and appeared in Richard Pryor ’s autobiographical film Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling , 1986. Her film directing debut was Out-of- Sync , 1995. For her many achievements in the fields of television and film, Allen received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in October 1991.

Filmography: Roots: The Next Generation , 1979; The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh , 1979; Fame , 1980; Ragtime , 1981; Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling , 1986; The Old Settler , 2001.

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