This week, Norm Lewis caused grown women to shriek and leap with excitement; one feverish young lady even followed him a few steps into a men’s restroom at the Benton Convention Center. Such is the life of an actor with a role on one of television’s most popular shows.
As Sen. Edison Davis on the ABC hit “Scandal,” Lewis has been one of the points in television’s most salacious love triangle.
“It’s been great,” he said of the role. “Luckily, I had the honor of being on the hottest show, and I had a chance to be with the hottest woman on television.”
That woman, of course, is actress Kerry Washington, who recently garnered an Emmy nomination for playing Olivia Pope on the drama – the latest offering from “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” creator Shonda Rhimes.
Lewis is no stranger to stardom. Solid performances over the past two decades in a string of Broadway shows have made Lewis – who is also a singer with an acclaimed baritone – a bonafide stage star and garnered him Tony and Drama Desk nominations. But international television exposure has increased the Eatonville, Fla. native’s name and face recognition tenfold.
“The recognition has been fantastic,” said Lewis, whose first public performances were from the choir stand in his boyhood church. “People stop me in airports all the time and say, ‘Hey, I know you; you’re that guy from that show.’ So it’s been cool.”
Lewis is enjoying the National Black Theatre Festival for the very first time. He had long heard great things about the biennial gathering, but other commitments kept him away. Now that he’s stepped onto what’s been dubbed “Black Theatre Holy Ground,” Lewis is hooked.
“I am loving it, and want to come back. I am going to tell everybody I know to come down here,” he said.
Sen. Davis was MIA for much of the last season of “Scandal,” but Lewis says fans shouldn’t write the character off just yet.
“I think there might be some history with Sen. Edison Davis on that show,” he said, alluding to the show’s frequent use of flashback stories. “We are negotiating that right now. In Shondaland (also the name of Rhimes’s production company), you never know what’s going to happen.”