Arthur E. Lewis: 2020 Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award Recipient

Arthur E. Lewis

December 19, 2019

Stage Manager Arthur E. Lewis will become the 29th recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which will be presented at the DGA Awards ceremony later this month. The Schaffner Award is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of their service to the industry and the Guild.

See video of Arthur Lewis' speech below.

A DGA member for more than 30 years, Lewis has served 10 terms on the Eastern AD/SM/PA Council since first being elected as an alternate in 2002. His Council tenure also includes service as 2nd Vice Chairperson from 2011-2013. From 2012-2016 he served as a Second Alternate on the DGA National Board and he has been a member of the DGA Negotiating Committee during the 2008, 2017 and current negotiations cycles.

While his service to the Guild has been a constant in his life, it never slowed his professional career where he can list more than 100 credits as a Stage Manager. That’s an impressive resume for a person whose original career path was headed towards a future as an engineer.

“I wanted to be practical by gaining an engineering degree to ensure future employment,” Lewis recalls. “But my freshman year internship with an engineering firm was not fun. If I was going to work every day, I wanted the work to be something I’d enjoy. I graduated as an English major and became a page at NBC where I met Fred Lights. Lights was one of the first African-American members of the DGA and he stage managed The Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. He suggested NBC management give me a chance and I became a DGA Stage Manager at the network in 1986.”

Lewis also states that his experiences with Lights inspired his decision to get more involved in his Guild.

“His example and guidance made involvement in the Guild a priority for me. When he began his work at NBC, he was ostracized by co-workers, often getting the silent treatment. Sometimes worse. When we met years later, in 1984, he was a respected, beloved member of NBC production. Knowing what he went through helped make the idea of participating in the DGA, exercising my vote, and adding my voice important to me.”

During his career, Lewis has been a Stage Manager on 13 DGA Award-winning productions where he has worked with the best Directors in the business including: Susan C. Strickler’s “Episode #7022” of  Another World (1992); Louis J. Horvitz’s The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1997) and 60th Grammy Awards (2018); Paul Miller’s 52nd Annual Tony Awards (1998); Beth McCarthy-Miller and Joel Gallen’s America: A Tribute to Heroes (2001); Glenn Weiss’ 61st (2007), 64th (2010), 65th (2011), 66th (2012), 67th (2013), 68th (2014) and 70th Annual Tony Awards (2016) and his 89th Annual Academy Awards (2017); and DGA Lifetime Achievement in Television  Award-winning Director Don Mischer’s Opening Ceremonies: Atlanta Olympic Games (1996) and We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial (2009).

However, of all those amazing credits there is one that still fills him with satisfaction. “The opportunity to Stage Manage President Obama is my proudest professional achievement. My involvement with him began at the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention where he was nominated as the presidential candidate. It continued to his inauguration and was sustained in the In Performance at the White House PBS series for both of his terms.

His experiences with Obama include such specials as Women of Soul in 2014, A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement in 2010, and Fiesta Latina in 2009, as well as The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song with Carole King in 2013, Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 2012, Paul McCartney in 2010, and Stevie Wonder in 2009. Additionally, Lewis worked the other side of the industry and was a First AD on the 2018 season of Murphy Brown.

With that busy a career, it’s amazing that he has found the time to give back to his Guild. But for Lewis, it comes with the territory. He considers supporting freelance variety Stage Managers’ involvement in the Eastern and Western AD/SM/PA Councils the proudest achievement of his Guild service. As Lewis puts it, “Broader participation strengthens the Councils.”

With all the stellar productions he has participated in, enhanced by the years of service to the DGA, there’s little surprise that Lewis was chosen to receive the Franklin Schaffner Achievement Award. However, that fact has left him, as Lewis so succinctly put it, “absolutely gobsmacked. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my DGA colleagues with whom I have experienced so many extraordinary moments for 33 years. The joy of collaboration and the value of lessons learned are both unfathomable.”

- portrait by Marcie Revens

Past recipients of the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award:
  • Mimi (Marian) Deaton (2019)
  • Jim Tanker (2018)
  • Tom McDermott (2016)
  • Julie Gelfand (2015)
  • Vince DeDario (2014)
  • Dency Nelson (2013)
  • Dennis W. Mazzocco (2012)
  • Maria Jimenez Henley (2010)
  • Scott Berger (2009)
  • Barbara J. Roche (2008)
  • Terry Benson (2007)
  • Donald E. Jacob (2006)
  • Stanley Faer (2005)
  • Peery Forbis (2004)
  • Esperanza “Candy” Martinez (2003)
  • Anita Cooper-Avrick (2002)
  • Robert N. Van Ry (2001)
  • Scott L. Rindenow (2000)
  • Robert Caminiti (1999)
  • C.J. Rapp-Pittman (1998)
  • Joseph L. Dicso (1997)
  • Don Lewis Barnhart (1996)
  • Larry Carl (1995)
  • James E. Wall (1994)
  • James “Woody” Woodworth (1993)
  • Marilyn Jacobs-Furey (1992)
  • Chester O’Brien (1991)
  • Mortimer O’Brien (1991)