Q&A with Debbie Allen

Friday Jun 17th, 2016

Blog > Q&A with Debbie Allen

We recently spoke with three-time Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen, who is directing the upcoming A Salute to the 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholars featuring recent YoungArts winners who were named U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts. An American actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer and YoungArts master teacher, Debbie Allen’s career has taken her from Broadway to television to film to the recording studio to the Academy Awards, which she has choreographed a record ten times. We were thrilled to ask her work, the upcoming performance and how she stays inspired. 

You’ve done so much to support the development of young artists. Can you tell us a little bit about why this is important to you and what it’s like to work with young people?

Debbie: It’s important to pass the baton and give back. My experience is so comprehensive. It is always encouraging to young people to see someone who is vested in dance, theater art and music and the world.
What can we look forward to with the upcoming A Salute to U.S. Presidential Scholarsperformance at the Kennedy Center on June 20?

Debbie: Our theme is Change and People “Metamorphosis” so we have a fusion of poetry, dance, music, theater and opera that will highlight the incredibly gifted Scholars in an interdisciplinary presentation that I have put together in one week. This is a time when especially young people need to consider change. The changes we need in our country, in education and the laws that need to be revised to serve and protect the people.

Given your rich, far-reaching and innovative career, we’d love to know: how do you stay inspired?

Debbie: I stay inspired by reading and traveling and seeing the world and people. Art is a lens through which we can magnify the human condition and make it better.

If you could give your 18-year-old self any advice, what would it be?

Debbie: Do what you’ve always done Debbie Allen, do the work.

And what amazing work that is. A special thanks to Debbie Allen for taking the time for this interview in the midst of a crazy and creative week as she guides and directs the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts for their performance on Monday, June 20 at 8 PM at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Event is free and open to the public.
Complimentary tickets are available at the door.

Not in D.C.? You can watch the full performance live on our website at youngarts.org

For more information on the U.S. Presidential Scholars, visit youngarts.org/presidential-scholars