This week during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, industry powerhouse Debbie Allen revealed what’s been keeping fans from getting a reboot of A Different World.
Ahead of attending the NAACP Image Awards, in which she is nominated for the Social Justice Impact award, the actress, dancer, choreographer, singer-songwriter, director, and producer explained how she’s managed to masterfully wear so many hats while giving some insights on her upcoming projects.
When asked, “Is there a second life for A Different World?” Allen didn’t mince any words.
“We’ve been wanting to do it forever. Honestly, it’s strapped behind the whole situation with Mr. [Bill] Cosby — which is unfortunate. But the show was his idea,” she conceded.
“There’s a studio and network situation where they can’t allow any money to go into his company. I said, ‘Can’t we contribute it to schools or something?’ But you can’t take somebody’s name off of a show. A Different World needs to have a second life, and we know how to do it. I was so close to doing it with Issa Rae.”
“We were going to do it again,” she continued, confirming they were looking to have a bonafide reboot. “Then the question was posed, “Will he take his name off of it?” And that’s not going to happen. It’s sad because we need it right now.”
The multi-hyphenate also spoke about her return to Grey’s Anatomy following the industry-wide hiatus caused by the pandemic.
“I’ve always had a group of young women training under me,” she explained. “When Shonda Rhimes put me in this position [as executive producer], the first thing I did was make my own commitment to hiring 50 percent women.”
“This was before #MeToo or any of that — because I’ve always been a woman, and I’ve always had problems with opportunity,” she noted. “Now, a lot of first-time directors I’ve hired, I can’t even get anymore because they’re so busy. During COVID, I haven’t been able to let people shadow, but I just had a meeting about revisiting it next season.”
“We kept pushing the needle for months,” she recalled of the show’s ability to return earlier than most. “It’s not just about making everybody safe, it’s about making them comfortable. We realized we had to figure that out for ourselves while taking the advice of all the experts we had.”
Of course no Debbie Allen interview would be complete without mention of her beloved nonprofit, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, which also spent a year without in-person classes due to COVID-19.
“Right now, we’re just taking small steps forward,” said the dance legend. “We have programs for elders, cancer patients, battered women and children, health care workers — but, now that they’re all being disseminated virtually, it’s about making them accessible to thousands of people. We’re actively raising funds so we can just exponentially make these programs more widespread.”
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