The dancer, choreographer, actress, writer, producer, and director will be honored for her “numerous contributions to the television medium.”
Hollywood icon Debbie Allen will receive the Television Academy’s 2021 Governors Award at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony next month.
The organization announced in a statement on Thursday that the 71-year-old dancer, choreographer, actress, writer, producer, and director will be honored for her “numerous contributions to the television medium through multiple creative forms and her philanthropic endeavors around the world,” as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Debbie Allen attends The Broad Museum celebration for the opening of Soul Of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983 Art Exhibition at The Broad on March 22, 2019 (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Broad Museum)
“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.
Committee co-chair Debra Curtis added, “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.”
Allen responded by saying she saw the recognition as more than just hers alone.
“This has been an amazing year for me. 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 said.
As theGRIO previously reported, Allen, a Howard University graduate, began her journey on the Broadway stage, eventually earning a Tony nomination and scores of fans starring as Anita in West Side Story before landing her signature role of Lydia Grant in the hit TV series, Fame.
Behind the camera, she served as a key director and producer of A Different World for years. She’s currently executive producing and directing episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (on which she also played Dr. Catherine Avery), as well as Insecure, Dolly Parton’s Christmas in the Square, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Jane the Virgin, Empire, Everybody Hates Chris, and so much more.
In 2000, the three-time Emmy Award winner opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. Their take on the classic Nutcracker ballet was the subject of a 2020 documentary Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker.
Previous recipients of Governors Award honors, which was introduced in 1978, 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.
In May, Allen was celebrated at the 2021 Kennedy Center Honors, along with iconic actor Dick Van Dyke, country music king Garth Brooks, folk legend Joan Baez and star violinist Midori.
At the ceremony, Allen took a moment to speak to her legacy and how the television landscape has changed throughout her career.
“There are so many different venues that stream … but also, television has opened up in its diversity in a very inclusive way that was not quite so,” Allen shared.
Allen acknowledged the importance of actress Diahann Carroll in Julia, noting that she was one of the only forms of representation a young Allen got to see on screen growing up.
“That has changed,” she continued, “because now we have a wide, wide palette upon which so many different showrunners and actors are painting on television. It wasn’t quite so many many years ago, and I think it’s good!”
The 2021 Emmys take place on Sunday, Sept 19. at 5 p.m.
This story contains additional reporting from Jared Alexander.
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