Debbie Allen is a legendary choreographer, director, producer, actress, and dancer, and the founder and artistic director of L.A.’s Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Before talking about what it takes to succeed in the arts, she revealed her favorite thing about L.A., the opera she dreams of directing, and why, if she had to choose any animal, she’d want to be a cat, in the Zócalo green room.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Ice cream is my guilty pleasure.
What’s the last live performance you saw?
I saw—oh my god—I saw those boys downtown. I saw the biggest rock band in the world, the Rolling Stones, down at the Staples Center. It was incredible.
What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles?
How often do people quote yourself in Fame to you, or sing the theme song?
Almost every day. They’re always singing “Fame.” Now they’re quoting my lines from Grey’s Anatomy: “Give your mama a kiss, she just bought you a hospital.”
When and where are you at your most creative?
I’m at my most creative at home in my dance studio when I’m alone.
How many pairs of shoes would you say you own?
What play would you most like to direct?
An opera: Carmen.
If you could be any animal, which would you choose and why?
A cat. They have nine lives!
What was the most important year of your life?
Probably 1983, when my father died. It was a real life-changing experience for me, emotionally, artistically, and just as a woman.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Hold onto what you’ve got while you’re reaching for what you want.