Exclusive: At 70, The Legendary Debbie Allen Just Wants To Be Comfortable And That's Why She's Designing Her Own Shoes

Debbie Allen Easy Spirit Shoes

Exclusive: At 70, The Legendary Debbie Allen Just Wants To Be Comfortable And That's Why She's Designing Her Own Shoes

She also reveals which of her celebrity friends has the best shoe closet.

Published March 3, 2020

Debbie Allen, the iconic actress, Emmy-award winning choreographer, and producer is the latest star to partner with Easy Spirit. She has graced stages and TV screens for over 30 years including her role on ABC”s hit show, Grey’s Anatomy.

For her latest project, Ms. Debbie starred in the ‘Living Your Best Life’ campaign for Easy Spirit. The new campaign will specifically celebrate women over the age of 50. For Debbie, the message simply lies within that she is in the prime of her life. “I am living the Easy Spirit ethos of age is nothing but a number and that anything is possible when you’re comfortable. I am an executive, who, at 70 years old, is doing more work now than ever. And I balance it with a healthy marriage and family,” said the entertainment guru.

The Easy Spirit x Debbie Allen partnership also comes with spring color hues like baby blue and yellow, and is priced between $59-$99. This campaign kicks off a chance to win $5k in special prizes and an Easy Spirit spring shoe wardrobe.

BET spoke with Ms. Debbie about her partnership with the historical shoe brand, see the interview below.

BET: Your Easy Spirit shoes campaign is "Live Your Best Life Now." So, what does live your best life now mean to you? 

Debbie Allen: Being present. It means every moment- being as healthy as you can be. It means every moment expressing the love you have for the people that are important to you. And it means, being in a workplace where you can function and feel comfortable and happy, all of that.

BET: You're 70-years-young, but have more energy than most twenty somethings. So can you us any tips on staying healthy and feeling your best? 

DA: There's a lot of things going on. There's new medical technology coming every day. But I think one of the most important things is your diet. You know, people are what they eat, and that is just a fact. I know when I'm weighing more than I should, it's because I'm not eating properly. I'm on a movie set all the time and there's nothing but food, really good food. So, I think that it is having discipline, getting exercise, and being active with your doctor. Letting them know what you're concerned about, letting them know what you want them to focus on. Being proactive, you know, tells them what you want them to focus on.

(Photo courtesy of Easy Spirit)

BET: How does the Easy Spirit Ambassadorship differ from any of the partnerships you've ever done? 

DA: Sometimes my ambassadorships are about people getting information that might be about something that I'm not directly using. This is about something that affects me. I stand on my seat all day long. My feet informs the rest of my body, my attitude, and how I'm functioning. So if I am not comfortable in my own shoes, which is an old kind of saying, it doesn't allow me to function well. Uh, because I'm running up and down steps all day. I'm running around the set, I'm telling people what to do. I'm being told what to do. So this campaign has all to do with something that really affects me personally. And then once I became more familiar with it, I realized how many of my friends here at work wear Easy Spirit shoes all the time. My costume designer, that's all she wears because she herself is always shopping, running around. And this makes her able to feel good. There's nothing worse than your feet hurting. Right. And maybe want to be in shoes that are comfortable but then have a style that looked good. And that's, that's why I love this, this whole campaign is, I think it's terrific. 

BET: Speaking of Grey's Anatomy, you play a Doctor on the show. Have you picked up any shoe comfort tips since doctor's are known to wear comfortable shoes?

DA: Well, the doctors mostly wear clogs, most of them. But a lot of them wear tennis shoes and comfortable shoes. Our designer actually uses Easy Spirit shoes without getting credit for it.

BET: You will be hosting a dance class with Easy Spirit for women over 50-years-old. Can you tell me a little bit about that and why was it important to you to have this class for women of a certain? 

DA: Well, on April the 18th at 12 o'clock I am going to be teaching a class with as many women as I can squeeze into the Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw Plaza mall. I'm excited about this class because this group of women is a group that I've been focused on for years. This is not something new to me. I have a program at my school, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy called Calibrí arts, and that is basically for elders who need to use dance as a motivator. In that class I have anywhere between 60 to 75 people that come, that are the ages between 50 and 95 it's amazing. It's one of the best things that I've ever done. My mother, Vivian Ayers started something years ago called gerontology and the arts, and it's just to get people remembering that their bodies are emotion, like the universe, everything moves. So this class sponsored by Easy Spirit, it's a gift to the community to remind them of what is important that you get out there and you move in and we're going to give shoes away, which is going to be a little gift to the first one hundred people. It's going to be part of our big festival, the Los Angeles international Dance Festival. So it's something we're trying to promote dance is a healing art, it's a transformative art for everyone. 

BET: Why do you feel dance education is important in our community?

DA: If we could put dance in every public school, you would have an attendance rate that would go through the roof. Kids wouldn't miss class. They would do better academically. I've seen it in my own Academy. The art is a natural and a very needed part of basic education. That part of your brain that's stimulated and gives you creativity is how we're going to solve the problems in the world. It takes creativity to figure out how to put an astronaut into space. It takes creativity to try to figure out how can I anesthetize and arrest these cancer cells. It takes creativity to solve so many problems. And so dance is one of the most important forms of art that could easily be taught in every school. That it would awaken that part of our young people's brains. And without creativity, there's no innovation. Without innovation, America cannot maintain leadership in the world without it. 

BET: So besides dance, what are some other ways you stay active?

DA: So reading is a big part of keeping myself active. And then I have a granddaughter now and she just turned one years old, so chasing her around and walking her around and it's, it's just a whole other part of life that gives me joy. I started a dance class here at Grey's Anatomy, which I haven't been able to teach for a while because they have me so busy. But I like to take walks. I have a dog, Macy, my husband and I take nice long walks by the beach where we live. And I run up and down the steps at Grey's anatomy at least 15 times a day. That's why I need those spirit shoes child. They have me busy. 

BET: As a well accomplished woman, you've won plenty of awards, been gracing the stage for over 30 years, you've done so much for our community. What are you hoping your legacy will be?

DA: You know, this is a question I'm being asked pretty frequently now. Maybe it's cause I'm getting older, but I've never thought about my legacy. I've only thought about what I can do for my community and what I can do for the young people who aspire to the things that I do. I have through the Debbie Allen dance Academy touched hundreds of thousands of young people around the world who are now interested in art, interested in film, interested in creativity. So I think if I had to say something, it would be the influence and the inspiration that I have with young people to, to go beyond what my accomplishments have been. 

BET: Bonus question, who out of all of your celebrity friends have the best shoe closet? 

DA: Hands-down, Pauletta Washington, Denzel Washington's wife. MY friend Pauletta has a shoe closet that looks like a store!

Written by Tira Urquhart

Photo courtesy of Easy Spirit

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