- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The celebrated dancer, choreographer, actress, writer, producer and director was chosen by the Television Academy’s board of governors for her TV achievements and her commitment to inspire and engage marginalized youth through dance, theater arts and mentorship.
Ahead of Allen’s acceptance speech, Ava DuVernay, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ellen Pompeo and Michael Douglas introduced her with an ode to her Fame role as Lydia Grant, reciting her famous “You want fame” line. Allen then took to the stage in a dazzling red gown, thanking the Academy for the “incredible honor” and admitted she was “trembling with gratitude and grace.”
“I am trying not to cry and be equal to the situation because it’s been many years in the making,” Allen told the Emmys audience. “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.”
Allen then waved off the award show timer, both humorously but seriously noting she would not be paying attention to it as she accepted this honor. “I have to share this honor with so many people… the dancers, the choreographers, the prophets, the poets who are my inspiration,” Allen said.
She continued by thanking all of those who have given her opportunities to “become Debbie Allen” including Steven Spielberg and Shonda Rhimes. “Thank you so much to those who understand and have unconditionally supported everything that I’ve tried to do for my community,” Allen continued.
“Let this moment resonate with women across this country and across the world, from Texas to Afghanistan. Let them know,” Allen said. “For young people who have no vote, who can’t even get a vaccine — they’re inheriting the world that we live in and where we lead them. It’s time for you to claim your power. Play your voice, sing your song, tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn.”
The Governors Award honors an individual or organization in the television arts and sciences whose achievement is so exceptional and universal in nature that it goes beyond the scope of annual Emmy Awards recognition. Previous recipients of the honor, which was introduced in 1978, include Tyler Perry; Star Trek; American Idol; William S. Paley; Hallmark Cards Inc.; Masterpiece Theater; Comic Relief; and ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and A+E networks.
The 2021 Primetime Emmy Awards took place on Sunday, returning to an in-person show after last year’s largely virtual, audience-free celebration. Cedric the Entertainer hosted the Television Academy honors, which aired on CBS from the outdoor L.A. Live event deck in downtown Los Angeles.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day