Some Of Our Favorite Moments Created, Produced Or Starring Debbie Allen For Her 69th Birthday

January 16, 2019  |  
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18th Annual Debbie Allen Dance Academy Fall Soiree Fundraising Celebration

Source: Leon Bennett / Getty

When you talk about Black women who make the entertainment industry what it is today, you can’t even begin to have the conversation without mentioning Debbie Allen’s name. From her work as a dancer and choreography, to her Broadway stage present, to film and television and now directing, Allen has accomplished more than most in her 69 years on this planet. Today, on her birthday, we’re highlighting some of the great moments from Allen’s personal and professional life. Check them out on the following pages.

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Dancing with her Husband

In celebration of the love she shares with her husband of over 33 years, the two danced with family and friends. The moves were pretty provocative for a couple in their sixties. And it was both adorable and inspirational.

Kill em with the shoulders

Before Lil Duval came out with his number one song “Smile,” he launched a challenge using Cameo’s song, “She’s Strange” called “Kill em with the shoulders.” Several people took part in it, including Debbie Allen and her family.


Dancing in West Side Story

Early in her career, Debbie Allen danced in a revival of West Side Story on Broadway. And from the video above, you can see that she killed it as Anita…in heels.

Debbie and Phylicia Rashad on “In The House”

Personally, I love when Debbie Allen does anything with her sister Phylicia Rashad and this episode of “In The House,” was classic. Unlike their usual dynamic, where Rashad plays the classy sophisticated woman, in this one she’s a bit of bad ass. You can watch the full episodes in the videos above.

The Cosby Show

The two shared yet another moment of sisterly collaboration, when Allen guest starred as Rashad’s trainer on “The Cosby Show.” She got to be the no-nonsense, keep it real trainer who bossed her sister around and told her about herself, so she could reach the goal of fitting into a dress.

Polly  Stand Up

Of everything on this list, this has to be one of my favorites. Polly was a remake of the 1960’s Disney film Pollyanna. Allen came on to direct and choreograph the film. It was excellent. And this “Stand Up,” scene was my absolute favorite. It captured not only the beauty of Black folk in their church clothes but the choreography accurately matched what it looks like when we catch the spirit.

Catherine Avery

It’s not everyday that you get to see women of a certain age get to be sexual beings. But as Catherine Avery, Allen gets to be bad ass in every way. She’s a well-respected doctor, an advocate for women and a sexual being. I love watching the relationship she and her new husband Richard Webber share.


You knew this one was going to show up. This speech likely sky-rocketed Allen’s career to another stratosphere while giving us another key moment in entertainment. The scene was so memorable because it speaks to the necessity of work ethnic. Not just in dance but in life.

A Different World

After the first season of “A Different World,” the audience started to complain that it wasn’t an accurate depiction of life at an HBCU. So Bill Cosby tapped Debbie Allen to come on and revamp the show. As a Howard alum, Allen had a particular experience and Cosby made her the primary creative force behind the show. And the “A Different World” we know and love today, is a direct result of Allen’s direction. The show did so much for the Black community, including increasing college enrollment.

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