Debbie Allen: Still Dancing For Her Life
“You’ve got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying … in sweat.” It’s been over 30 years since Debbie Allen uttered that memorable line and danced into America’s heart on the classic musical-drama television series, Fame.
But she was also producer-director for the series, A Different World, a three time Emmy Award-winning choreographer including Motown 25 Special with Michael Jackson, was the choreographer for famed dancer Paula Abdul and holds doctorates from both North Carolina A&T and Howard University.
These days, the multi-talented choreographer, actress, television director/producer and youth advocate is still dancing and getting the world to sweat with her for a cause that hits close to home: diabetes.
“I saw firsthand how challenging it was for my dad to manage his type 2 diabetes,” said Allen, whose father passed away at the age of 63.
“He tried to make some changes in his lifestyle, but the one thing I couldn’t get him to do was exercise more. That’s why I joined the T2 Dance Crew campaign. We are showing millions of people how taking small steps, like dancing, can make a meaningful difference in managing diabetes. The best part is – everybody can dance and it’s fun!”
T2 Dance Crew is a national education and wellness program that Allen recently launched in partnership with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to help the millions of Americans living with type 2 diabetes add more movement to their diabetes management plan with dance.
African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes – twice as likely to develop it compared to whites.
Dance as exercise has been shown to be effective for people with diabetes and the American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities at least five days a week.
For Allen, who grew up dancing and being physically active, the loss of her father helped her to realize she also had to be careful about her diet and how she raised her own children “Daddy always said to me that if I kept dancing I would never get it. Even through gestation and childbirth, I kept checking and checking, but I danced the whole time and it hasn’t happened to me, not yet. I think that combined with my sense of nutrition and my follow-ups with my doctor has really helped me be healthy.”