Debbie Allen

Your resume is dazzling: Actor. Dancer. Author. Choreographer. Director. Producer. Patron, mentor and muse. But you had to teach people to see the light.

As a pre-teen, your gifts were overlooked by ballet academies fixated on skin color and body type. Your mother, Vivian, a renowned artist, scholar and author, moved your family to Mexico to prevent prejudice from damping your creative spark.

Fortunately, your spirit was unquenched … and your talent undimmed. Fifteen years later, on a summer replacement show called 3 Girls 3, you danced your way into American homes and hearts.

Then came the casting call for Fame … and fame came calling.

A brilliant career followed. You produced and/or directed everything from A Different World to Amistad to All of Us. And played acclaimed roles in everything from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Grey’s Anatomy. You’re a U.S. Cultural Ambassador of Dance. A Kennedy Center artist in residence.

Recipient of three Emmys, a Golden Globe, five NAACP Image Awards, a Drama Desk Award, an Astaire Award for Best Dancer, an Olivier Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But your shining accomplishment has been the creation of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. For 20 years, the Academy has been a beacon for underprivileged children in Los Angeles, helping them find joy and meaning through dance, theater and performance.

For years you’ve reminded audiences that “the next step beyond failure could be your biggest success in life.” As a torch-bearer for creativity and compassion, you’ve brought light into the lives of so many others, as well.

I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Fine Arts, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.

June 5, 2022