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Born to dentist, Andrew Arthur Allen, and poet, Vivian Ayers, in Harris County, TX. As a child, Phylicia, her older brother Andrew (called Tex) and younger sister, Debbie Allen, lived in Mexico to escape US racism. She also has another brother, Hugh Allen (a real estate banker in North Carolina).Their mother, Vivian Ayers, decided to live there to give the Allen children a brief experience of not having to endure the chronic racism and segregation that was typical of Texas during the 1950s. From this, Phylicia and Debbie are fluent in Spanish.Phylicia graduated from Howard University and later taught drama there.With younger sister, Debbie Allen, she has production company "D.A.D." which stood for "Doctor Allen's Daughters". Her Pulitzer-nominated poet mother, Vivian, is the artistic and free spirit that has influenced and encouraged the remarkable creativity that so marks Allen as a performer.