It was a night to remember on Washington Blvd. and Manhattan Place in the Arlington Heights area of Central L.A. Hundreds of people braved the 50-degree temperatures to support actor, dancer, choreographer and director Debbie Allen in a benefit fundraiser for the Debbie Allen Arts Academy at the new Rhimes Performing Arts Center.
The two-story, 24,000-square-foot world-class facility has a seating capacity of 300, and will focus on Black and Latino communities by using dance, theater and performance to enrich, inspire and transform the lives of young students. Singer, songwriter, and producer Ne-Yo entertained the star-studded crowd with R&B stylings. Also, cast members from “Grey’s Anatomy” among them.
“Grey’s Anatomy,” the longest-running scripted primetime show currently airing on ABC, is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, Debbie Allen and others at Shondaland, the television production company founded by Rhimes. The award-winning and critically acclaimed medical drama won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series.
Scottish actor Kevin McKidd reflected on the facility’s past. “I was here [at RPAC] when it was a dirt lot and only drawings to look at. To be here now and to see it like this is unbelievable. Fifteen years before ‘Grey’s,’ I did a historical drama show for HBO called ‘Rome.’ That opportunity kind of led to all of this. Full circle,” he said.
On Allen’s legacy, Alexis Floyd commented, “She’s creating a foundation in the community for the arts to soar, especially for young kids who may not otherwise have the chance to travel outside the city limits to get that kind of education. She’s bringing the arts to the people and I’m going to start taking ballet here!”
Actress Kim Raver credits Allen with bringing the community together. “We have to create space for newcomers, and that’s what she’s done. She took the time out to mentor me, and allowed me to shadow her on the set of ‘Grey’s.’ Now I’m starting my first directorial debut,” she said.
“I’m here supporting the kids in this community, and the arts for people of color”, stated Anthony Hill, who also guest starred on the first season of the Shondaland drama “For The People” on ABC. “If ‘Grey’s’ ever ends, I’m looking at something with Marvel Comics. ‘Black Panther.’ It’s all the same family!
And from Debbie Allen, this statement: “We can finally rehearse the ‘Hot Chocolate Nutcracker!’ I’ve never had space big enough to put anybody in the same room. This is a place that we are opening in order to connect with the community.
“We’ll do a community carnival in February with rides, arts and crafts. We want this to be an oasis of creativity and purpose for the whole community, and certainly dance.”
The evening also included an art walk with curated collections by visual artist Carl Wesley. “Debbie and I have been friends for over two decades, and this exhibition has been 20 years in the making. I don’t think either of us knew that it would wind up in a gala of this magnitude, but it’s finally happened and I’m glad to be here,” he said.
For more information, visit https://www.debbieallendanceacademy.com/mission