Debbie Allen: ‘I’ve Always Worked Toward A Purpose Bigger than Myself’
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Last night ESSENCE Honored three incredible Black women in entertainment at the ninth annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood luncheon in Los Angeles. Hundred of Black women in the industry gathered to pay tribute to Tracee Ellis Ross, entertainment lawyer Nina Shaw, and director Debbie Allen, who received the Legend Award for her outstanding career in Hollywood.  

Allen received a beautiful introduction from her dear friend and colleague Shonda Rhimes, who said, ‘Debbie blows through an environment and changes the landscape forever.” Producer Reginald Hudlin presented the award to her.

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“I’ve always worked toward a purpose bigger than myself,” said Allen from the podium during her acceptance speech. “I wanted to replace Shirley Temple when I was little. I saw the Oscars when I was a kid and wanted to see someone on there that was my complexion. You have to believe in things.”

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Allen shared that, for her, that moment standing before all of her sisters felt akin to a Sunday afternoon at church. “But, the only plate I’m going to pass is the plate of purpose,” Allen said.

Her message was to pay it forward and follow your passions.

“The real world I was born into was one of dreams,” she added.