Tag: Debbie Allen

Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes Join Essence to Celebrate Black Women in Hollywood, Honor Debbie Allen

Honoree Debbie Allen and family (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

article by Sandy Cohen, AP via blackamericaweb.com

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Oscar host Chris Rock, producer Reginald Hudlin and film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took an afternoon off from Academy Awards preparations to celebrate black women in Hollywood.

Rock, Hudlin and Boone Isaacs were among the guests at Essence magazine’s ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Rock and Boone Isaacs didn’t speak publicly; Hudlin took the stage to present an award to legendary entertainer Debbie Allen.

The annual Essence event celebrates the achievements of black women in entertainment. Actress Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw and filmmaker Thais Francis were also recognized.

Francis thanked the magazine “for creating a platform of visibility.”

“A lot of us in this audience know the importance of visibility, especially during a time, in a society, in a world, in an industry that’s telling us that we’re invisible,” she said.

Shonda Rhimes, who introduced Allen as the new producing director of “Grey’s Anatomy,” called the writer-director-choreographer-performer “a force of nature.”

Producer/writer Shonda Rhimes attends the Essence 9th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)
Shonda Rhimes (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

“Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever,” Rhimes said.

As Allen accepted the Legend Award, she said she felt like she was in church, preaching to her sisters.

“The only plate I’m going to pass is the plate of purpose,” she said, urging the women in the audience to make real connections with each other — not just to meet up for drinks, but to work on ways of changing the world.

Shaw gave similar advice as she accepted the Power Award. The attorney for such entertainers as Laurence Fishburne, Lupita Nyong’o and Ava DuVernay was introduced by Nick Cannon and Channing Dungey, who became the first African-American to head a broadcast network when she was named president of ABC Entertainment last week.

“If you are a woman who wants to be empowered, then empower other women,” Shaw said.

“Black-ish” star Ross, accompanied by her father and older sister, Rhonda, accepted the Fierce and Fearless award. Ross said she had been sick for the past week and worried she wouldn’t be able to attend the luncheon.

“I got dressed in the car,” she said. “I’m unclear if what I’m wearing is see-through. If it is, I’m sorry.”  She said the recognition from Essence “is truly one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced.”

Oprah Winfrey opened the program, which will air Saturday on OWN.

To read more, go to: http://blackamericaweb.com/2016/02/26/oprah-winfrey-shonda-rhimes-join-essence-to-celebrate-black-women-in-hollywood-honor-debbie-allen/

Debbie Allen, Tracee Ellis Ross and Nina Shaw To Be Honored At ESSENCE’s Black Women in Hollywood Event

BWIH 2016
Nina Shaw, Tracee Ellis Ross and Debbie Allen (photo via essence.com)

From Essence.com:  ESSENCE is gearing up to honor and celebrate three bright talents in entertainment for our 9th annual Black Women in Hollywood event.

Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross will take home the Fierce & Fearless award, iconic director, producer and actress Debbie Allen is being honored with the Legend award, and entertainment attorney Nina Shaw will be presented with the Lincoln Power award.

In a climate where the conversation surrounding the roles, contributions and recognition of African-Americans in Hollywood is heavily charged, ESSENCE Editor-in-Chief Vanessa K. De Luca points out the importance of the event.

“We are delighted to continue the tradition of honoring exceptionally talented women who are making significant contributions as creators and performers in Hollywood. At a time when the conversation about diversity in Hollywood remains prevalent, recognizing the indomitable power and presence of Tracee Ellis Ross, Debbie Allen and Nina Shaw at our annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon embraces an inclusive and diverse Hollywood community.”

The Black star power doesn’t end with the phenomenal honorees! The event will also feature appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Nick Cannon, Ryan Coogler and Zendaya to name a few.

Fans can get full access to the event by tuning into the live stream on ESSENCE.com starting at 12:15 p.m. PT/3:15 p.m ET on February 25.

Black Women in Hollywood be televised as an ESSENCE and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network special airing Saturday, February 27 at 10 p.m ET/PT on OWN.

FEATURE: Debbie Allen Discusses Directing TV & Her Many Roles in “Grey’s Anatomy” Season 12

Director/Producer/Actor Debbie Allen (TERENCE PATRICK FOR VARIETY)

Debbie Allen rose to fame with “Fame,” serving as a director, producer and choreographer. She was also the first black woman to be Emmy-nominated in the dramatic lead actress category. More than three decades later, she has a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and is a frequent director — and now executive producer of the show. “It’s a little crazy, but what a great life,” Allen tells Variety. “I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof that somehow landed on all fours.”

What are your new responsibilities on “Grey’s Anatomy” Season 12, being a director, actor and executive producer?

I’m very involved in every episode, in terms of production design. I’m selecting the directors this season, looking over everything from makeup and hair to the actors’ concerns. I spend a lot of time with the writers, which I love.

How do you balance acting in an episode that you’re also directing and producing?

It’s actually how I started on “Fame.” I trained in acting, literature and theater, so talking to actors is something I’m really used to doing. That gives me a little bit of an edge sometimes. I know how to speak the actor’s language. On “Fame,” I started as Ms. Lydia Grant and I was the choreographer, but I soon became their favorite director because I knew how to shoot the dance and then I understood the acting. Doing it all at the same time is how I came into it.

Have you noticed a big change in your role on “Grey’s,” now that you’re an executive producer?

Very dramatic change. I’ve always been there as a director and somewhat of a den mom — it’s interesting; so many of them grew up on “Fame,” and I’ll never forget the first time I directed, Patrick Dempsey started singing “Fame” and doing jetes, and I’m like, “Stop it already. Stop it!” — so now, there are things that are my responsibility or things that I keep my eye on or things that I can mitigate. I’m responsible for a lot of things, which is a wonderful position to have. I’ve done this once before on “A Different World.” I was the executive producer and director on that show for five years. But this is different. It’s an hour, it’s in its twelfth season, but it feels like it’s brand new.

Speaking of Patrick Dempsey, how is the set different without him?

We had a great relationship. My nickname for him was “Dash” — Dash was the kid in “The Incredibles” that was running fast. He would come through the set like that. He was on the move. Racing cars defines him for real. Patrick is not there so it changes the dynamic of the story for Meredith.

How much will you be featured in this season?

Catherine Avery is still a guest star. She’s not a series regular, but I’m there so when they need me now — last year, they had to go and try to find me — they can take advantage of me, and it’s okay! I’m not mad about it.

Continue reading “FEATURE: Debbie Allen Discusses Directing TV & Her Many Roles in “Grey’s Anatomy” Season 12″

Debbie Allen To Expand Her “Grey’s Anatomy” Role – Will Become Executive Producer & Director

Debbie Allen as Dr. Catherine Fox Avery on GREY'S ANATOMY
Producer/Actor/Director Debbie Allen

After appearing in the hit ABC Shonda Rhimes medical drama, and directing a number of episodes, Debbie Allen is getting ready to step into an even larger role, as an executive producer and regular director for the upcoming 12th season of the show, which actually hasn’t been officially renewed, but is obviously expected to be.

The ratings for “Grey’s Anatomy” continue to be strong for ABC, as part of the network’s booming Thursday night lineup, also known as Shonda night, given that all 3 drama series (“Grey’s,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder”) that air in primetime on that day, are all Shondaland babies. Also, ratings have apparently surged ever since (SPOILER ALERT) the show killed off one of its key players in Patrick Dempsey. Although it’ll be worth paying attention to see whether the momentum carries.

Debbie Allen has directed episodes of several different TV shows over the years, dating back to “Fame” in the 1980s, to “Jane the Virgin” and “Empire” most recently. This new deal ensures that she will be even more involved in the production of the series from here-on, while still also recurring as Dr. Catherine Avery.

The final episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” will air over the next two Thursdays.

article by Tambay A. Obenson via blogs.indiewire.com

NBA Legend Wilt Chamberlin 1st Player to be Commemorated on U.S. Postage Stamp

NBA Great Wilt Chamberlin Stamp (Credit: United States Postal Service)

Wilt Chamberlain captured America’s imagination for two decades. With his 7-foot-1 frame, his commanding presence on the basketball court, his ability to rebound and score and his astounding athleticism, he became one of the most memorable players in NBA history.

Now, Chamberlain, the only man to score 100 points in an NBA game, will become the first player from the league to be honored with a postage stamp in his image. And fittingly enough, the two versions being issued by the Postal Service are nearly two inches long, or about a third longer than the usual stamp.

It would not be right any other way for the player known as Wilt the Stilt and alternately as the Big Dipper. Chamberlain died in 1999 at 63, but his name still resonates in the sport. And even at its atypical size, the new stamp could barely contain Chamberlain’s dimensions.  “We still had trouble fitting him into those proportions,” said Kadir Nelson, the artist who painted the images.

Nelson created two versions of the stamp. One shows Chamberlain in the act of shooting with his first NBA team, the Philadelphia Warriors, for whom he started playing in 1959. The other depicts him rebounding for the Los Angeles Lakers, his final club, for whom he played from 1968 to 1973.

Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain shot over the San Diego Rockets’ Bud Acton in 1968 in Boston. (Associated Press)

The stamps will be dedicated Friday, in Philadelphia, his hometown, at halftime of the 76ers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The ceremony comes at a frustrating time: The 76ers avoided tying the record for the worst start to a season in NBA history Wednesday night when they ended their 0-17 run with a victory at Minnesota.

But for a few minutes Friday night, Philadelphia fans old enough to remember can think back to the days when Chamberlain — first as a Warrior and later as a 76er — engaged in epic battles with the Boston Celtics’ Bill Russell. In 1967, Chamberlain led Philadelphia to an NBA title, the first of two in his career.

But just how did Chamberlain end up on a stamp?

The creation of a postage stamp is a process that takes years and begins with the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, a volunteer group appointed by the postmaster general. The committee evaluates roughly 40,000 proposals annually before recommending about 30 people or subjects for the postmaster general’s review.

A Chamberlain stamp was originally envisioned as part of a set of four basketball players who made history, said William J. Gicker, the creative director for the stamp program. A campaign engineered by Donald Hunt, a sportswriter for The Philadelphia Tribune, in support of Chamberlain led to thousands of letters and petition signatures being delivered to the committee. Continue reading “NBA Legend Wilt Chamberlin 1st Player to be Commemorated on U.S. Postage Stamp”

Debbie Allen Champions Arts Education for Youth, Kicks Off National Tour of “Brothers of the Knight”

DEBBIE_ALLEN_HEADSHOT_tOscar, Emmy and Tony Award-winning choreographer and director Debbie Allen premiered her new theatrical production Brothers of the Knight at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills last night, kicking off a five-city summer tour.  Turning out to support Allen and her passion for training today’s youth in the arts were actors Jenifer Lewis, Clifton Powell, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo, Darrin Hewitt Henson, New Kids on the Block singer Joey McIntyre and WNBA All-Star Lisa Leslie, among others. (Click here to see GBN’s Instagram photos from the event.)

Grammy-winning musician James Ingram wrote the music to this modern adaptation of the classic Brothers Grimm tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, where twelve brothers steal away to a magical ballroom and dance every night away unbeknownst to their strict preacher father.

Allen, who produced the show with husband and former NBA All-Star Norm Nixon, went on a five-city tour to find the best young talent possible, then trained and worked closely with them to bring the production to life.

“I opened this audition to kids who are not just in dance schools,” Allen said, but “to people who simply love to dance.”

1391112260644Allen is passionate about arts education for youth and mounts productions like this every year to shed light on its importance as more and more public schools drop arts, music and theatre programs.

“It’s a battle right now. Arts education is disappearing without a trace from the public schools. If you don’t have arts as part of the core of your curriculum, you are not going to be well educated,” Allen recently told WGBH in Boston.

Allen has been fighting to keep dance and the arts available for youth for quite some time.  In 2001, Allen opened the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA), a non-profit organization which offers classes in various dance disciplines for youth and teens.

Brothers of the Knight runs until June 22 in Los Angeles, then moves to Boston from June 27-29, Philadelphia July 3-6, Washington DC July 10-13 and Charlotte July 17-20.  To order tickets, go to brothersoftheknight.com.  To sponsor or donate to this show, click here.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

25 Empowering Books for Little Black Girls

 photo black-girl-reading.jpg
From the moment they come into the world, little black girls work just a little bit harder than their peers to construct a healthy sense of self in a society that prizes values and attributes that don’t mirror those they possess. We as their caregivers must help them find the way by offering them as many affirming messages as possible. We can do this with our words and by our example; however, books can also prove to be important points of contact into the souls and spirits of African-American girls. Here is a list of books that promote a positive self-image in younger, black females:

Ages 2-4

Girl of Mine – Jabari Asim

This companion book to Boy of Mine shows a dazzling little girl enjoying playtime in the moon’s soft glow. As daddy cradles his baby girl, she is suddenly whisked away on a fantastical adventure, swinging above lush floral gardens under the golden moonlight. The sweet text, inspired by “Rock-A-Bye Baby,” will whisk little ones off to peaceful slumber.

Lola at the Library – Anna Mcquinn

On Tuesdays, spunky Lola and her mommy go to the library. Come with Lola on her favorite weekly trip in this celebration of books and the people who love them.

I Can Do It Too! – Karen Baicker

This heartwarming story reminds us how satisfying it is to grow up surrounded by love. I Can Do It Too! affirms a little girl’s growing independence as she, too, can begin to do all the things she sees her parents, relatives and neighbors do: pouring juice at breakfast, strumming a guitar, and even riding a bike! The simple cadence of text and direct-to-the-heart art result in a book as warm and generous as its message, providing reading pleasure for toddlers, older siblings, and the grown-ups who love them.

Preschool

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale – John Steptoe

This is the tale of Mufaro’s two daughters, two beautiful girls who react in different ways to the king’s search for a wife – one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king takes on disguises to learn the true nature of both girls and of course chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be his queen. 

Something Beautiful – Sharon Dennis Wyeth

A little girl longs to see beyond the scary sights on the sidewalk and the angry scribbling in the halls of her building. When her teacher writes the word beautifulon the blackboard, the girl decides to look for something beautiful in her neighborhood. Her neighbors tell her about their own beautiful things.

The Colors of Us – Karen Katz

Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades. Continue reading “25 Empowering Books for Little Black Girls”