For Black History Month, ET is honoring legends through the eyes of legends in the making.
There’s one person Kylie Jefferson credits for helping shape her into the woman she is today: legendary dancer, choreographer and producer Debbie Allen. At just six years old, Jefferson — who made her onscreen debut in Netflix’s ballet drama Tiny Pretty Things and is a featured dancer in Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker — was the youngest student to be accepted into the famed Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, where she trained under the tutelage and mentorship of Allen as a young, aspiring ballet dancer. The years of blood, sweat and tears, with Allen’s support and guidance, was key in Jefferson’s growth as a Black woman looking to make her mark.
“I don’t know anyone who works harder than her. Learning from her, she’s going to require that of me,” the 26-year-old dancer told ET. “You have a second mom with her. Once you become a part of her family, she never lets you go. So me being a part of her world since I was six years old, I remember being around that age and just being a child in between rehearsals or classes doing little kid stuff. I would randomly hear her come into the room, like, ‘Where’s Kylie Jefferson?’ I’m like, ‘What’s this woman want with me?’ because I’m seven years old, not really knowing who she is and what she means to the world. But as I get older and the more I learn from her, it makes me a lot more appreciative of my journey and the fact that I’ve had such close guidance with someone that actually cares to be a part of it.”
It wasn’t until Jefferson was a teenager, around 16 or 17 she says, when it clicked that Allen was a living legend. “She started telling me she knew Snoop Dogg and Chris Brown and Usher, when I started to realize that she really knew those people and she was a part of their world.” It was around that time the ballerina started piecing together the impact Allen has had on Hollywood as a whole, recalling a trip to New York City they had taken when she was eight years old. “We were in traffic, of course, and she looked out the window. She’s like, ‘Is that Usher?’ We’re in a whole different car. She has them pull over and we’re talking to Usher on the side of the street in New York City!” Jefferson reminisced. “This is a random life [moment] for her. I really started to connect those kinds of memories. I was like, ‘Yeah, she is the GOAT.'”
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