actor, producer, director, choreographer
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Debbie Allen found fame as the demanding dance teacher Lydia Grant in the film Fame (1980), a role she reprised for the successful NBC TV series, which she also choreographed. Allen is the sister of actor Phylicia Rashad, best known as Claire Huxtable on NBC's The Cosby Show. Allen joined the already popular Cosby Show spin-off, A Different World (1987–1993), during its second season as producer and primary director. Along with Cosby, Allen became one of contemporary television's leading proponents of African American bourgeois values as a director of such family-oriented sitcoms as The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and The Sinbad Show. She also helmed the 1990 NBC pilot for the hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Also known as the choreographer of the sometimes praised, sometimes panned Academy Awards presentations since 1991, her feature acting credits include Milos Forman's Ragtime (1981), Richard Pryor's Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986), and Disney's Blank Check (1994). She choreographed Billy Crystal's Forget Paris (1995). She also directed the television movies, Cool Women (2000), The Old Settler (2001), and Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story (2006), and in 2001 appeared in the films The Painting and All About You. She also has been keeping busy directing episodes of TV shows such as That's So Raven, Girlfriends, All of Us, and Everybody Hates Chris.