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Debbie Allen’s 3 Kids: All About Vivian, Norman Jr. and DeVaughn

Debbie Allen shares three children with her husband, former NBA player Norm Nixon

<p>David Livingston/Getty</p> Norman Nixon Jr, Debbie Allen, Norman Nixon and Vivian Nixon arrive at the Essence 9th Annual Black Women event on February 25, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

David Livingston/Getty

Norman Nixon Jr, Debbie Allen, Norman Nixon and Vivian Nixon arrive at the Essence 9th Annual Black Women event on February 25, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Debbie Allen is an award-winning actress, 10-time choreographer for the Oscars and the first Black woman to receive the Governors Award, but the most important thing to her is being a mom to her three children: Vivian, Norman Jr. and DeVaughn.

"One of the greatest joys of my life is being your mother. Love my babies!" she wrote on Instagram alongside a throwback photo of her daughter, Vivian, her son, Norman Jr. and her stepson DeVaughn.

Allen and her husband, former NBA player Norm Nixon, got married on April 27, 1984, making her stepmom to Norm’s son, DeVaughn Nixon. The following month, the pair welcomed their first child together, daughter Vivian Nixon. In August 1987, son Norman Nixon Jr. was born.

Given their family lineage, it’s unsurprising that DeVaughn, Vivian and Norman Jr. have all gone into the entertainment industry — Allen and her sister, actress Phylicia Rashad, grew up with an appreciation for the arts thanks to their mother, a Pulitzer Prize–nominated poet.

“I always encouraged my kids to read, to study the classics. It connects you to other people, to the world,” Allen said in a 2021 interview with L.A. Parent.

However, she was careful not to push them into following in her footsteps. “You have to know your children and lead them from behind. You’re there to support, and where they want to go is where they go. You can’t make them be who you are," Allen added.

Here’s everything to know about Debbie Allen’s three kids.

DeVaughn Nixon, 40

<p>Chad Buchanan/Patrick McMullan/Getty</p> Norm Nixon, Jr., Debbie Allen and DeVaughn Nixon attend Sophisticated Elegant Blacks in Art at Karen Lynne Gallery on July 14, 2005.

Chad Buchanan/Patrick McMullan/Getty

Norm Nixon, Jr., Debbie Allen and DeVaughn Nixon attend Sophisticated Elegant Blacks in Art at Karen Lynne Gallery on July 14, 2005.

Around a year before Norm married Allen, he welcomed his first son, DeVaughn Nixon, on July 8, 1983. Although he grew up with an athlete for a father, DeVaughn decided to follow in his stepmother's footsteps instead. In 1992, he acted in The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston and went on to have roles in many popular TV series like Lizzie McGuire, Drake & Josh and Sonny with a Chance.

In 2022, he depicted his father in the series, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, which served as a huge accomplishment for the actor. "It's truly a dream come true," DeVaughn told PEOPLE at the time. "It's the biggest layup I've ever gotten in my entire life."

In his personal life, DeVaughn is married to Lara Nixon and maintains a close friendship with Diana Ross' son, Evan Ross.

Vivian Nichole Nixon, 39

<p>Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic</p> Debbie Allen and Vivian Nixon attend the Los Angeles Premiere of MGM's "Respect" on August 08, 2021.

Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Debbie Allen and Vivian Nixon attend the Los Angeles Premiere of MGM's "Respect" on August 08, 2021.

Allen welcomed her daughter, Vivian Nichole Nixon, on May 31, 1984, one month after she and her husband, Norm, tied the knot.

Vivian, who was named after Allen’s mother, Vivian Ayers Allen, was born premature and weighed less than 4 lbs. “I was so afraid when she was born,” Allen told Ebony in 1991. "She was so tiny but when I saw her pull off the oxygen mask, I knew she was okay. I knew she was strong just like her mother."

As a child, Vivian began acting with small roles in TV shows. “I was with my mom everywhere,” she told Dance Spirit. “I grew up on set, in the theater, watching her. So, I was drawn to the arts.”

Eventually, she followed in her mom’s footsteps as a dancer, getting into the Kirov Ballet School in Washington, D.C. However, in the Netflix documentary, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, Vivian explained that when she experienced racism from a teacher in her third year, Norm and Allen pulled her from the school. That’s also when her mom created the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, or DADA, where Vivian is now the executive director.

<p>Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic</p> Debbie Allen and daughter Vivian Nixon during Judge Marilyn Milian of The Peoples Court visits "Hot Feet" on Broadway.

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Debbie Allen and daughter Vivian Nixon during Judge Marilyn Milian of The Peoples Court visits "Hot Feet" on Broadway.

The mother-daughter duo has also worked together on-screen in 18 episodes of Grey's Anatomy in which Vivian played Dr. Hannah Brody and Allen acted in her recurring role of Dr. Catherine Fox. Vivian has also had roles onstage in Hot Feet and West Side Story, and acted in other series like Station 19 and Power.

In February 2019, Vivian welcomed her first daughter, Shiloh, with her husband Jazzston Williams, whom she married in July 2022. The pair have since welcomed another daughter, Aviah.

Speaking to Essence in 2020, Allen gushed about her family. “One of the most important things that I do that maintains my peace is the time that I spend with my granddaughter, honestly," she said. "My husband and I are so in love with her and she’s so in love with us and we get to keep her every weekend."

Allen added, "Being there and stepping in, however you can is one of the most important things to me."

Norman Nixon Jr., 36

<p>Amanda Edwards/WireImage</p> Debbie Allen and her son Norman Nixon Jr. attend The Paley Center For Media's 34th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles - "Grey's Anatomy" screening and panel on March 19, 2017.

Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Debbie Allen and her son Norman Nixon Jr. attend The Paley Center For Media's 34th Annual PaleyFest Los Angeles - "Grey's Anatomy" screening and panel on March 19, 2017.

Norman Nixon Jr., or “Thump” as Allen calls him, was born on Aug. 26, 1987, in Santa Monica, California. Like his older sister, he grew up with an interest in acting and dancing, although, initially, his dad didn’t want him to dance.

In an interview with NPR in 2014 Allen said, “Dance is as athletic as basketball. The energy, the power, the flexibility and the creativity that it takes to play basketball is not unlike dance.” Unfortunately, her husband and former NBA star did not initially agree.

“[Norman Jr.] was really talented as a dancer when he was little, tap dancing. And I had to sneak and give him lessons,” she said, adding that her husband “lost his mind” when he first found out, but eventually came around.

<p>Debbie Allen Instagram </p> Debbie Allen and son Norman Nixon Jr.

Debbie Allen Instagram

Debbie Allen and son Norman Nixon Jr.

Like his older sister, Norman Jr. has also acted alongside his mom on 12 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. “He's running through the sets and doing his own," Allen told E! News in 2022 about working with her son. "He's so wonderful, so I love him so much."

But, on set, the mom-and-son duo still found time to dance, according to a video Allen shared on Instagram in 2022. “Taking a dance break with my son,” she wrote in the caption. “I wonder where he gets it from. 🤣💃🏽.”

Norman Jr. also auditioned to play the role of his father in the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, but ultimately lost to his older brother, DeVaughn. Despite the initial awkwardness, DeVaughn told Variety, "I wouldn’t want anybody else playing my dad except for one of us.”

The actor has also started working in comedy — he filmed a comedy special in Los Angeles at the end of February 2024.

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