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Debbie Allen BiographyShe graduated from Howard University and used her experiences from attending an historically Black College to inform her production and direction of the TV show A Different World. She, her sister Phylicia Rashad, brother Tex and their mother spent over a year in Mexico when they were young. Her mother made the decision to go there to give her children a brief experience of not having to endure the chronic racism and segregation that was typical of Texas during Debbie's childhood. As a result of this experience, Debbie and her sister Phylicia are fluent in Spanish. Although her parents divorced, Debbie remained extremely close to her father, Arthur Allen, until his death. She and her sister had a production company called "D.A.D." which stood for "Doctor Allen's Daughters". Her Pulitzer-nominated poet mother is, however, the artistic and free spirit that has influenced and encouraged the remarkable creativity that so marks Allen as a performer. Her daughter, Vivian, was named for Debbie's mother, Vivian Ayers-Allen.
TriviaDaughter of dentist Arthur Allen and Pulitzer-prize nominated Vivan Ayers ( artist, poet, playwright, and publisher). Older siblings are jazz musician Tex (Andrew Arthur Allen Jr, born 1945) and actress Phylicia Ayers-Allen (Phylicia Rashad, born 1948), and brother Hugh Allen (real estate banker in North Carolina). Received an Honorary doctorate from The North Carolina School of the Arts, the same institution that denied her admittance to its dance department when she was sixteen years old; she was told then that she had the wrong type of body for dance. Won 1992 & 1995 Essence Awards. Has twice been nominated for Tony Awards: in 1980, as Best Actress (Featured Role -Musical) for a revival of "West Side Story," and in 1986, as Best Actress (Musical) for playing the title character in a revival of Bob Fosse's "Sweet Charity." Her most notable role to date, that of "Lydia Grant" on the TV Series "Fame" (1982), earned her three Emmy Nominations and one Golden Globe. Choreographed five Academy Award shows. Authored children's books entitled, "Brothers of the Knight" and "Dancing in the Wings". Her daughter, Vivian Nixon, is in the lead role of the Broadway musical "Hot Feet". Vivian was classically trained at Washington D.C.'s Kirov Academy of Ballet and at The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Daughter Vivian Nixon followed in Debbie's footsteps by playing Debbie's "Anita" role in a 2006 revival of the musical Leonard Bernstein Conducts West Side Story (1985) (TV). Debbie returned to her hometown of Houston to see her daughter perform. In 1972, her mom Vivian's work, "Workshops in Open Fields," was hailed and recommended to the nation as a "prototype of grass roots programming" by the director of NEA. Vivian established the Adept New American Museum--a museum for art and history of the American Southwest; which features "Juneteenth" Black Cowboys, American Indian Sand Painting, seminars on the Emancipation Proclamation and Mayan studies-- in Mt Vernon NY. She is known as a leader in the arts community in New York area. Has arthritis in her right shoulder and right ankle.
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