At Emmys, Debbie Allen tells women 'from Texas to Afghanistan' to 'claim your power'

Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

While accepting the prestigious Governors Award at the 2021 Emmys ceremony Sunday night, dance legend Debbie Allen had a message for women and young people worldwide.

“From Texas to Afghanistan ... it is time for you to claim your power, claim your voice, sing your song, tell your stories,” Allen said, alluding to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Taliban-conquered Afghanistan and recent anti-abortion legislation in Texas.

“It will make us a better place. Your turn.”

After receiving a standing ovation — as well as individual tributes from the likes of director Ava DuVernay, actor Jada Pinkett Smith and other Hollywood peers — the “Fame” star thanked “everybody who’s given me an opportunity to become Debbie Allen,” including one of her most famous dance pupils, late Lakers icon Kobe Bryant.

Allen also offered shout-outs to filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who directed her in the 1997 film “Amistad,” and TV producer Shonda Rhimes, who collaborated with her on the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”


During her 40-plus years in the entertainment industry, Allen has become best known for her standout TV turns in “Fame” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” as well as her renowned and inspirational work as a dancer, choreographer and philanthropist.

“I am trembling with gratitude and grace,” Allen continued in her emotional speech.

“I’m trying not to cry and be equal to the situation, because it’s been many years in the making — taking a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time. A lot of courage and creativity and faith to believe that I could keep going, and I have.”


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