KF: One of your passions that came out of your fame and success was your school, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Why did you decide to start this academy?
DA: I was asked to teach dance everywhere in the world that I went after I did Fame. [People asked]: "Where's your school, Miss Allen? How can I send my children?" I taught dance when I was staging the Oscars®. I did 10 Academy Awards, and I would have to stop and make them understand that this was something by Katherine Dunham—they didn't know who she was. Or, "This is very Fosse." I was always teaching.
When I had to send my daughter, Vivian, away to train, that was just devastating. It was an opportunity for her, and I was happy she wanted to go, but I was like, "Why don't we have this here?" So I decided to jump in there, and I started the school without any funding.
One day, you looked up and there were 20 black girls, 10 white girls, four Latin girls and two Chinese girls dancing flamenco together. How amazing was that? That was amazing. I did it because if I hadn't had the opportunity to train with that amazing Russian teacher in Houston, Texas, I wouldn't be who I am today. I wanted that opportunity to exist.