Debbie Allen has never stopped dancing.
The multi-talented Emmy winner has been dancing since childhood and throughout her career in television, film and the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. Now, through a Youtube Red show, the 67-year-old is bringing her love of the art form to a new digital medium.
Step Up: High Water —inspired by the multi-million-dollar grossing films— is about up-and-coming dancers at a performing arts school in Atlanta. Ne-Yo plays Sage Odom, the legendary founder of Atlanta’s famed High Water Performing Arts School, while Naya Rivera stars as Collette, a former dancer turned High Water administrator.
Executive producers on the project are Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum who starred in the original box-office hit. Holly Sorensen created the show and serves as an executive producer alongside fellow executive producer and pilot director, Adam Shankman.
Allen serves as a guest director for the second episode on the project that she worked on while on hiatus from ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.
“I think one of the best things about me as a producer is that I’m a people person and I get people energized and get people to communicate,” Allen told ESSENCE. “And I’m a communicator. I like to express myself openly. If you don’t have transparency in whatever is happening, those are very important values for a producer to have.”
Having been in the business for over four decades the producer, director, actress and dancer has some sound advice concerning women trying to make it in Hollywood.
“What I can do is just mentor whenever I have the opportunity and just continue to tell young women—and you see how the last decade in our industry right now— is that this is a time for us to take hold and take our real place of leadership and ownership and have a voice. We have to master a craft in order to do that.”