Meet Dewey Caddell and the Pirates Who Give Back

Dewey Caddell, a program administrator for Viacom’s learning and development department, spends his free time moonlighting as a pirate. A Story Pirate, to be exact.

Here’s how it works: A school wants to add a story-writing activity to their curriculum. Story Pirates – a nonprofit education and media organization comprised of world-class actors and writers – come to that school and teach the kids the basic elements of the craft. Together, they create a narrative, taking suggestions from the kids for each act. The kids send Story Pirates their finished work, and the group comes back to provide positive feedback to each author. The team then chooses five stories to perform in front of the class.

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One of Caddell’s favorite stories is called “I love,” written by a second grader named Makela. He knows the words by heart.

“The story was, ‘I love my mom, my dad, a fish, a gold, a dog, a cat, a heart,’” said Caddell. “That’s the whole story. We have a six-minute musical number where we perform that story. It is funny and heartfelt.”

Growing up in Missouri, Caddell was passionate about the arts. He studied acting and singing in college at the University of Missouri. In 2003, he moved to New York City to continue working as an actor. About six years ago, Caddell auditioned for Story Pirates and was cast as an actor. At first, he was hesitant to join the team. He didn’t know much about Story Pirates, except the training was rigorous and the pay low. Everything changed when he met Josh Lay, another Viacom employee and Story Pirates veteran. Lay was Caddell’s “cell mate” – a pirate tasked with mentoring new team members – during the audition process.

Caddell was impressed with Lay’s background—he was a web producer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at the time.

“Maybe there’s not a lot of money in Story Pirates,” Caddell said, “But there are a lot of people who are at the top of their game, writing and acting. I wanted to be a part of that group.” Caddell is inspired by the talent of his fellow Story Pirates. The cast includes Broadway actors and writers for SNL, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central.

“It is something very precious to me,” said Caddell. “It is the best thing that I am doing. Not necessarily the thing I am best at. But of all the things I spend time doing in my life and day, there is no better thing that I do.”

The group will also help lower-income schools to develop curriculum around a certain subject. Recently, for example, Story Pirates helped teach a class about the Mars Rover. They sometimes even help the school write a grant to pay for Story Pirates’ services.

Caddell remembers performing one particularly heartwarming story written by a student who had just moved to a school district and didn’t know anyone. The story was about the Revolutionary War, two pages long and single-spaced.

“It had all these crazy characters,” said Caddell. “It was a fantastic, fictional story.” The Story Pirates performed the ten-minute piece and announced the name of the author. Caddell remembers how the boy quietly stood up in the back of the room. He was met with a roar of applause.

“It is something very precious to me,” said Caddell. “It is the best thing that I am doing. Not necessarily the thing I am best at. But of all the things I spend time doing in my life and day, there is no better thing that I do.”

In fact, Caddell would love to share Story Pirates with other creative individuals at Viacom. He envisions connecting Story Pirates with Viacommunity Day. Since Story Pirates Headquarters is so close by – its New York office located just four blocks away from 1515 Broadway – volunteers could easily pick up the binders of stories and work on them in their free time.

You don’t have to be an actor or writer to get involved. Story Pirates holds a volunteer event each Tuesday called Story Love. Volunteers are considered honorary Story Pirates and help provide feedback for stories.

Caddell still acts in other venues, but says Story Pirates is by far the most rewarding. “I do commercial and TV work. I usually say yes when the money gets right for that stuff. With this, I just say yes.”

Visit the website for ways to get involved, and check out the Story Pirates benefit on Saturday, April 9.

Now in its 20th year Viacommunity, our social responsibility umbrella, has become more than just something we do – it is part of who we are, a core value of our company. To underscore how deeply embedded giving back is to our identity, the Viacom Blog is profiling 20 employees who embody the Viacommunity spirit in their everyday lives.

Photos courtesy of Story Pirates.

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