Debbie Allen is an architect of change. The living legend is using her celebrity to bring awareness to gun violence and has started a movement entitled, “Architects of Change: The Conversation Series; reframing the conversation around gun violence.”
Allen is making it her mission to bring awareness to gun violence, and she has recruited the help of some prominent people to help her make her case.
Allen’s latest production, Freeze Frame, is a theatrical journey about gun violence in America. The production opened in Los Angeles on February 4th at the Wallis Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.
Allen held a panel discussion, moderated by Maria Shriver, about gun violence immediately following the World Premiere of Freeze Frame,
During the discussion, Shriver asked Allen what sparked her interest to create [Freeze Frame] such a project, “You wrote this and made it such passion” she noted. Allen responded by saying she had experienced racial segregation, witnessed violence against others just because they were black and went on to say, that this topic is, “more relevant than ever” and that “I just imagined myself” in that position. A very moved Allen revealed, “I keep rewriting it.”
Allen concluded by saying, “The Arts helped me rise up against; The Arts helped me live.” Allen said she knew she could not become desensitized to gangs and police violence. “Each time I would hear about a child I would hear about it as if it were my own,” in reference to why this topic is “more relevant than ever” the Grey’s Anatomy Director said. The production pays homage to Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Columbine and others. “Sandy Hook tore my heart apart – it just broke my heart,” the FAME alum said.
“I feel like a Children’s Rights Activist. I know that the Arts is the way. There is nothing like the Arts,” said Allen when asked how youth can otherwise spend their time. Shriver asked Allen what was next in terms of what everyone can do. Allen responded by saying, ” I only know what I can do. This production Freeze Frame – it made you look inside.” A very humbled Debbie Allen confessed, “I did a lot of studies to do this.” She also touched on people being afraid to speak up, saying, “We have lost our moral spine.” She challenged the audience to be a part of the movement by standing up and saying something.” [Jada Pinkett Smith] stood up and said something – in reference to the recent Oscar controversy.
“You have to have courage [to say something]. I want to follow the political election, take this show on the road, ask people to reach out and say something, ” said Allen.
Allen was asked by Shriver [to answer] what is the one thing you want people to take away. To answer her question, Allen said, “Stop the madness. That’s the purpose of Freeze Frame. Take a good look at this picture. Where are you in this picture.” She also said she would like to bring attention to the fact that “What we do affects one another” and added if “The world would start to understand that we are one that would be my hope.”
Shriver summed up everything by saying, “It begins with us. We can all leave here feeling hopeful. Everybody has a voice – everybody can do these five things [a short list featured in program booklet] and still go about daily life.” Her last words were to Debbie Allen. The former first lady said, “Debbie, I thank you for being artsy, having passion, and commitment to make us all freeze and be a part of this process.”