Lillian Benson To Receive Prestigious Fellowship And Service Award From Motion Picture Editors Guild


Lillian Benson, ACE, will be honored by the Motion Picture Editors Guild on April 8 in Los Angeles with their prestigious Fellowship and Service Award. The Fellowship and Service Award was established 10 years ago by the Guild’s Board of Directors to recognize an individual who embodies the values the Guild holds most dear; professionalism, collaboration, mentorship, generosity of spirit and a commitment to the labor movement.

The Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG) is a national labor organization currently representing over 7,500 freelance and staff post-production professionals. MPEG is the world’s premiere craft Guild that sets the standards for excellence in the post-production industry. The requirements to become a member of the Guild and to be placed on its Industry Experience Roster ensure the highest level of professionalism.

Presenting Benson with the Fellowship and Service Award will be her longtime friend and colleague Zeinabu Irene Davis, a film director and producer as well as a professor in the Communications department of the University of California, San Diego. Benson has edited several of Davis’ films, including Passengers (2009) and Trumpetistically, Clora Bryant (1989).

Lillian Benson began her career in New York City and learned how to sync film dailies on her very first job — a documentary film about the first female president of Radcliffe College. Two years later, she assisted editor Joe Staton on Vegetable Soup, the multi-cultural children’s television series, and became a member of the Editors Guild. She assisted Staton on the cult comedy favorite Smile Orange, directed by Trevor Rhone (The Harder They Come), and later on TV movies directed by the legendary Gordon Parks (Solomon Northup’s Odyssey) and Bill Duke (The Killing Floor).

Like most freelance editors in New York, Benson worked on a long string of industrial films, music videos, sports programming and cultural affairs shows. For a time, she was a staff editor on the children’s series Big Blue Marble. But it was documentary director Jacqueline Shearer who first believed in Benson’s larger talent when Shearer hired her as an editor for the acclaimed Civil Rights series Eyes on the Prize II. In 1990, Benson was nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on that series and, a year later, became the first African-American female member of the American Cinema Editors, an honorary organization for film and television editors.

President of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, Alan Heim, ACS, said of Benson that, “Lillian E. Benson has a had a long career editing influential and socially conscious films, and has been long active in working to increase minority participation in the filmmaking process. In addition, she has been an active member of the Board of Directors for the American Cinema Editors [ACE] as Secretary and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee. I am honored to have even a small part in presenting her with this richly deserved award.”

Benson’s body of work as a television, video and feature film editor spans almost 40 years, and those projects have garnered five Emmy nominations, four Peabody Awards and numerous other honors. She is currently editing the episodic television series Chicago Med for NBC and in 2016 worked on the Oprah Winfrey/Craig Wright mega-church drama Greenleaf.

Mr. Sawyer is a freelance writer, editor and journalist from Tampa. He has written thousands of articles for hundreds of magazines and news sites on countless topics including science, the media and technology. He is also the author of many white papers, special reports and ebooks covering a wide range of subjects.
Kevin Sawyer
Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource