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Debbie Allen’s Strategy for Dealing With Condescending Men Is Everything

As women, it’s unfortunately inevitable that some creepy dude is going to pull some creepy move on you in the most unprofessional way while you’re at work. It’s always been a part of life for women in any field of work where men dominate. And yes, it’s even been a part of the life of Debbie Allen, badass actress, choreographer, dancer and recipient of this year’s Gracie Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.

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In a quick interview with Elle, Allen discussed a moment while working on the 1980s television hit Fame when her director patted her on the butt and talked down to her. She said, “I had a director — a man — pat me on my butt one time when I was choreographing Fame, and tell me, ‘Don’t worry your little heart about where the camera is.'” According to Allen, all she did was give her opinion about where the camera should be in relation to her choreography. She was doing, ya know… her job.

Allen goes on to tell how she handled the situation.

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“I said to him, ‘Listen, you SOB, if you don’t listen to what I’m saying, you’re going to be here shooting this number ’til two in the morning, and this will be your last episode.’ The rest of the day he had me calling ‘action’ and ‘cut.’ So, you know, you’ve got to stand up and take the bull by the horns — stand up for yourself, even if it means you’re gonna get in trouble.”

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Ladies, Debbie Allen has spoken. We have no excuse not to stand up for ourselves now. Not only did Allen not get into trouble, but she gained more respect from the experience, and it’s something that she’s no doubt carried with her through the rest of her career. Allen now stars in Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Catherine Avery, where she says not only are the female characters strong, but for every 24 episodes in a season, “more than 12 will be directed by women.”

Thanks to Debbie Allen’s part in the TV and film industry, we have some choreographed steps in the right direction.

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