Not everyone realizes the nature of their vocational calling while they are still in high school. Dawn Schulz Schaefer ’93 was one of the lucky ones. She knew one day she wanted to design sets in Hollywood and wasn’t about to let anyone or anything stand in her way. Through hard work and sheer determination, Schaefer landed her dream job 15 years ago as executive art director at CBS Studios in Television City, Los Angeles.
One of her most noteworthy credits is serving as the art director for the CBS reality show, “Survivor.” She began by creating the designs, backdrops, buildings and sets of the original show, which led to the designing of the live shows including the “Survivor’s All-Stars” set at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Her work on “Survivor – Thailand” earned her an Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program.
Other credits include “The Apprentice Live Finale” in Los Angeles, “CBS News” (with Scott Pelley when in LA), “CBS News this Morning” (when in LA), Emmy Red Carpet events for CBS, “Real Time with Bill Mahr,” “Rock Star: INXS,” “The Price is Right,” “The Young and the Restless” and other corporate events and local shows. She even worked as art director for “On the Lot,” a competition for film makers directed by Steven Spielberg.
To date, her favorite project has been the “Carol Burnette – Show Stoppers” reunion show. “I will never forget when Carol asked, ‘Dawn, can we just move my chair a little closer to the audience?’ It was such a privilege to work with her, and so much fun!” Schaefer added. “Even though that meant flipping the entire platform upside down, putting wheels on it so it could be moved downstage, and upstage later to accommodate a dance number; that’s the only thing Carol asked of me and I was happy to do it,” she said.
Schaefer still loves her job after 15 years and attributes it to the family-type atmosphere of the studio. She is married to alumnus Gary Schaefer ’93 and they live in Acton, Calif. with their two sons.