Debbie Allen Makes History As First Black Woman Winner of Emmys Governors Award

Debbie Allen made history at Sunday night's Emmys as she became the first Black woman to receive the Governors Award.

Allen was honored at the 73rd annual Emmy Awards on Sunday night for her contributions to television as an actress, writer, producer, director, dancer and choreographer.

The multi-talented television powerhouse went on to steal the show with her powerful speech, which she dedicated to women all over the world.

"Let this moment resonate with women across the world and across this country, from Texas to Afghanistan," Allen said during her acceptance speech. "For young people, who have no vote, who can't even get a vaccine—they're inheriting the world that we live in and will leave them. It's time for you to claim your power. Claim your voice, sing your song, tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn."

The Governors Award is presented to those with an "outstanding achievement in the arts and sciences or management of television which is either of a cumulative nature or so extraordinary and universal in nature as to go beyond the scope of the Emmy Awards presented in the categories and areas of the competition."

In 2020, the Governors Award went to Tyler Perry. Previous honorees including Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Walter Cronkite.

Before her speech, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ellen Pompeo, Ava DuVernay and Michael Douglas paid tribute to Allen's role as Linda Grant in the musical series Fame and the television academy celebrated Allen for being a mentor and inspiration to youth from marginalized communities in the arts.

“Claim your power. Claim your voice. Sing your song. Tell your stories. It will make us a better place. Your turn.” - @msdebbieallen #emmys2021

— Margit Detweiler (@Margit) September 20, 2021

Allen's speech touched on her 50-year career and how it's "taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time."

She added: "A lot of courage and creativity and fight and faith to believe that I could keep going and I have."

The 71-year-old prompted uproarious applaud when she ignored producers' calls to end her speech.

"Honey, turn that clock off. I'm paying no attention to it," she said.

"Honey, turn that clock off, I ain't paying no attention to it, turn it off!" - Debbie Allen is going to get her speech off! #Emmys2021

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 20, 2021

🙌 Debbie Allen 🙌

That’s it. That’s the tweet.

— BrandiKHOU (@BrandiKHOU) September 20, 2021

Thanking some of her collaborators from throughout her career, Allen cited Steven Spielberg and Shonda Rhimes.

"Thank you so much to those who understand and have unconditionally supported everything that I've tried to do for my community," Allen continued.

Debbie Allen
Honoree Debbie Allen, recipient of the Governors Award, poses in the press room during the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Rich Fury/Getty Images

Speaking to Variety about being this year's Governors Award honoree last week, Allen said: "To see that the value of your work stands tall says that I have to keep doing it. Time is what I'm up against. I have so much to do. It's not a moment to rest on laurels. [This award] means I have to keep my hands on the plow, as I always say."

Allen's win is being widely celebrated by fans on social media, with hundreds of viewers congratulating her for the well-deserved accolade.

if debbie allen told me to turn a clock off i would immediately try to figure out how to stop time altogether.

— Joy Oladokun (@joyoladokun) September 20, 2021

Debbie Allen deserves any recognition she gets. Congratulations on her getting the Governors Award! #Emmys

— 𝚋𝚛𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚕𝚢𝚗’𝚜 𝚊𝚖𝚋𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚊𝚍𝚘𝚛. (@travisfromdabk_) September 20, 2021