Debbie Allen is getting her flowers!
The iconic choreographer, actress, director, and producer was presented with the Governors Award at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night for her contributions to television, her commitment to inspiring marginalized youth through the performing arts, and her multiple philanthropic endeavors. By accepting the honor, Allen became the first Black women to receive the Governors Award.
Her much-deserved tribute was introduced with a video recapping her life and career voiced by Gayle King before Jada Pinkett Smith, Ellen Pompeo, Ava Duvernay, and Michael Douglas brought Debbie Allen on stage. As a nod to her character in Fame, the foursome were holding canes before repeatedly tapping them on the floor as she made her entrance to a standing ovation.
“I am trembling with gratitude and grace, 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,” the 71-year-old during her acceptance speech. “And I brought a whole lot of people with me, so I want to say thank you for this glorious moment in the sun.”
In a moment everyone at home and in the audience loved, Allen made sure to let the showrunners know she wasn’t paying the logistics of the show any mind.
“Honey, turn that clock off. I’m paying no attention to it, turn it off. Turn it off,” she said to the producers after seeing a clock indicating how long she had left to speak.
To wrap up her speech, the Hollywood legend sent out a message to women across the world:
“Let this moment resonate with women across the world, across this country and across the world, from Texas to Afghanistan,” she said. “Let them know. And also with young people who have no vote and who can’t even get a vaccine, they’re inheriting the world that we live 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. Thank you.”
As she receives this award, Debbie Allen joins the ranks of Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Tyler Perry, who have all received the Governors Award since it debuted in 1978.