Lewis Jefferson Mays is an American actor known for his versatility and talent, captivating audiences on both Broadway and Hollywood stages. He has garnered numerous accolades, including a Tony Award, a Helen Hayes Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, two Drama Desk Awards, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, and three Obie Awards.
Born in Clinton, Connecticut, in 1965, Mays developed an early interest in acting and participated in various theatrical productions during his youth. He later attended Yale College, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the University of California, San Diego, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts from the graduate acting program. He appeared at La Jolla Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Playwrights Horizons.
Mays' Broadway debut came in 1995 when he replaced Roger Rees in the role of Charles Dickens in the musical A Christmas Carol. His performance was praised for its warmth and humor, earning him a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.
In 1996, Mays took on the role of Patsy in the Broadway production of The Apple Tree, a musical revue based on the works of Mark Twain. His performance was lauded for its comic timing and physicality, earning him a Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.
In 2004, Mays starred in the one-man play I Am My Own Wife based on the life of Charlotta Wolff, a German trans woman who survived the Nazi regime. His portrayal of over 40 different characters was praised for its virtuosity and emotional depth, earning him a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, and a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show.