Choreographer and director Debbie Allen received the Governors Award at the 2021 Emmys on Sunday in celebration of a career that paved the way for many other women like herself.
Allen is iconic, and her achievements span across industries. She began as a dancer and eventually became a choreographer and an actress, singer, director, and producer.
Sunday night, as she accepted her well-deserved accolade, she reflected on a career that often placed her in uncomfortable situations forced her to fight for the recognition that she deserved.
It’s taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time. A lot of courage and creativity and fight and faith to believe that I could keep going. And I have. And I brought a whole lot of people with me,” Allen said in her acceptance speech.
In August, the Emmys announced that Allen would receive the award for her achievements and commitment to inspiring marginalized youth through dance and theatre arts.
Allen’s career spans four decades, and she is the recipient of five Emmys thus far.
Her directing and producing credits include Fame, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. Plus, every fan knows that A Different World, over which she had creative control after season 1, would not have made it were it not for her magic touch.
Allen has also choreographed for legends such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr. and one-half of the immortal Fosse/Verdon choreography duo, Gwen Verdon.
Another one of Allen’s achievements is inherent in having received the award. She is the first Black woman to receive the Governors Award.
Of that achievement, Allen sees it as her sign to keep moving forward.
“To see that the value of your work stands tall says that I have to keep doing it. Time is what I’m up against. I have so much to do,” she said.
She indeed has much more to show us, and we are here for every minute of it.