Debbie Allen Biography 1950-
African American actress/dancer Debbie Allen had built up a solid reputation as a Broadway choreographer by the time she made her screen debut in The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979). In 1980, she created the role of demanding dance instructor Lydia Grant in Fame (1980), a role she carried over into the long-running TV series of the same name. Each and every episode of this five-season series began with Debbie addressing a roomful of students: “You want fame?…Well, fame costs. And the price is sweat.” Practicing what she preached, Debbie not only co-starred in the series but directed several episodes and handled the choreography, winning a brace of Emmies in the process. She went on to be nominated for a Tony award for the 1986 Broadway revival of Sweet Charity. The older sister of Cosby Show co-star Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen has herself remained active on the small screen, in the early ’90s mapping out the production numbers of the annual Academy Awards telecast and in the mid-’90s co-starring with rapper LL Cool J on the weekly NBC sitcom In the House.