Debbie Allen has been giving us greatness in film and television for more than five decades, and she finally has gotten her roses during Sunday night’s Emmys live telecast.
While many are calling out the Emmys for shutting out Black actors, there were some memorable moments we can hold on to as well. Of course, Michaela Cole took home the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for I May Destroy You, a first for a Black woman and Kerry Washington’s fitting tribute to the late Michael K. Williams. But, another standout moment was Debbie Allen as the recipient of this year’s legendary Governors Award, making her the first Black woman to do so.
Allen’s name has been ringing bells in the film and television industry since she first garnered our attention with her performance as Anita on Broadway in the classic musical West Side Story. She captivated millions with her role as Lydia Grant on the classic television series Fame.
She would make her most significant mark behind the camera as the director and producer of A Different World, plus serving as executive director on Grey’s Anatomy. She also directed episodes of our favorite shows like Insecure, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Jane the Virgin, and more.
Along with the award, a video presentation narrated by Gayle King chronicling her prestigious career followed up by Jada Pinkett-Smith, Ava DuVernay, Ellen Pompeo, and Michael Douglas, who have worked with Allen presenting her with the award.
Walking out to the iconic Fame theme song, Allen was greeted with a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience before giving her tearful acceptance speech.
“I am trembling with gratitude and grace,” she said in her speech. “I’m trying not to cry and be equal to the situation because it’s been many years in the making…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… I want to say thank you for this glorious moment in the sun.”
A moment that will go down in history is Allen telling the Emmys, “Honey, turn that clock off. I ain’t paying no attention to it,” which was greeted by plenty of laughter and applause by those in the audience.
With time on her side and no wrap-up music coming, she continued, “Let this moment resonate with women across this country and across the world. From Texas to Afghanistan, let them know. And also with young people… they’re inheriting the world that we leave them. It is time for you to claim your power. Claim your voice. Say your song. Tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn.”
We are happy to see Ms. Allen get the recognition she deserves, also thank you to her for providing us a memeable moment from The Emmys.
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Photo: CBS Photo Archive / Getty
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