Spotlight on Stage Managers Arthur Lewis and Valdez Flagg

August 21, 2023 An Eastern Diversity Steering Committee Discussion

On August 21, the Diversity Steering Committee's (EDSC) virtual meeting featured the discussion, Spotlight on Stage Managers Arthur Lewis and Valdez Flagg.

In a dialogue moderated by Director Stan Lathan (Martin: The Reunion), Lewis and Flagg spoke about their careers and longtime Guild service that resulted in both having received the DGA’s Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award.

During the conversation, Flagg shared his belief that things are looking brighter on the diversity front, saying, “What we've done in the last three or four years is a quantum leap compared to what it used to be,” but added “Diversity has to do with money and power, not just optics.”

Lewis advised, “When you do this work of diversity and inclusion and addressing unfairness, I think it is most helpful to focus on the work.”

Speaking of working with Lewis, Flagg said, “Our styles are very different, but we both have a finesse that runs a good stage,” and Lewis said that stage managing is “like being the best friend at the wedding.”

Looking to the future, Lewis forecast, “there's always going to be a place for live events. People are always going to want to share that collectively.” And Flagg stated, “There's a human element of what we do that has to transfer between humans, and without that, yes it can get done, but there will be some fallout if it is done by technology.”

About the Panelists:
Arthur LewisArthur E. Lewis
Lewis’s Stage Manager credits include DGA Award-winning productions of The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing ArtsAcademy AwardsGrammy AwardsTony AwardsOpening Ceremonies: Atlanta Olympic Games (1996) and We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial and America: A Tribute to Heroes. A DGA member since 1986, in 2020 he was the recipient of the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of service to the industry and to the DGA. 

Valdez FlaggValdez Flagg
Flagg’s Stage Manager credits include the International Jazz Day at the White HouseThe ESPY AwardsBET Hip Hop AwardsBillboard Music AwardsGrammy AwardsScreen Actors Guild Awards and The Oscars. A DGA member since 1987, Flagg currently serves as a member of the DGA National Board, and as a member of the Western AD/SM/PA Council. He previously served as Council Chair from 2008-2014 and again from 2017-2019. In 2023 Flagg was honored with the with the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which is given to an Associate Director or Stage Manager in recognition of service to the industry and to the DGA. 
Stan LathanStan Lathan (moderator)
Lathan’s directorial credits include the feature film Beat Street, groundbreaking PBS shows such as Black Journal SOUL! and Sesame Street; hundreds of sitcoms, dramas, variety shows, and docs including Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam; the pilots for series such as MartinMoeshaAmen, and South Central. A DGA member since 1972, he is a three-time DGA Award nominee in the Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials category for his Dave Chapelle productions The CloserDave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones and Dave Chappelle: Equanimity.  

 About the Eastern Diversity Steering Committee

The Eastern Diversity Steering Committee represents the concerns of Guild members of African, Asian, Native American, Arab-Middle Eastern or Latino descent residing in the East. Committed to improving the employment opportunities, working conditions and the skills of ethnically diverse Guild members, the Committee sponsors workshops, seminars, round-table discussions and networking events to showcase the talents of its members, recognize their contributions and increase their visibility in the industry. The Committee’s current Co-Chairs are UPM Canella Williams-Larrabee, Second AD Sussan Cordero and Stage Manager April Smith.

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