LeVar Burton

American actor, director, and television host (born 1957)

Levardis Robert Martyn Burton Jr. (born February 16, 1957) is an American actor, director, and children's television host. He is known for his roles as Kunta Kinte in the ABC miniseries Roots (1977), Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994), and as host of the PBS Kids educational television series Reading Rainbow for more than 23 years (1983–2006), for which he has received 12 Daytime Emmy Awards, and a Peabody Award as host and executive producer of the show.

LeVar Burton at GalaxyCon Richmond in 2020


  • I personally believe that education is the key to freedom. Actually, literacy is the key to freedom because you can educate yourself.
  • My life was changed forever. My first day as an actor, Cicely Tyson played my mother, Maya Angelou played my grandmother. I was 19, and they embraced me as a peer. They schooled me. They certainly taught me what it meant to be a professional, but they assumed that because I was there I belonged there, and they treated me as such. It was an extraordinary experience for a young person.
  • I wouldn’t want to be a young and emerging talent in today’s environment of the 24-hour news cycle and social media and a camera in everyone’s hand. I can’t imagine how much that adds to the burden of the journey.
  • I am a huge fan of science fiction! Throughout my life I have marveled at the powerful, even transformative nature of speculative storytelling. The influence science fiction storytelling is having in popular culture right now is amazing to behold, and as a genuine fan of the medium, I truly believe we are in a New Age of speculative fiction. There is a pleasing phenomenon developing in the genre recently: the worthy inclusion of voices of color, which are being paid much overdue attention. Why this is important should be self-evident. However, for those sitting way in the back, consider this: we continually create the world we occupy-in our imaginations first, and only afterwards do we make those visions manifest in this world. So it stands to reason that a healthy society is one that respects and honors the voices of ALL of its components. For too long, the voices and visions for our future have been provided, for the most part, by and from a culturally European (if not Eurocentric) perspective. However, there is change afoot. The works of Octavia E. Butler are becoming mainstream, and names like Nnedi Okorafor and Lesley Nneka Arimah are bringing much needed flavor to the narratives that help shape our future.
    • Forward to New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nisi Shawl (2019)
  • Jaymee Goh, Darcie Little Badger, Indrapramit Das. These are voices that are sorely needed if we are to chart a course for humanity that does not result in the destructive practices of our past. The exploration of space and our eventual close encounters with other intelligent species will require us to leave our "colonizer" mentality behind and embrace an attitude of openness and humility we have to cultivate, let alone master. When a world leader advocates for the creation of a militaristic Space Force to exercise "dominance" in the heavens, we are moving further than ever from Gene Roddenberry's United Federation of Planets. Instead, our exploration into the unknown should cause us to examine who we are as sentient beings, and science fiction as a tool for social change makes for a most welcome companion on our journey.
    • Forward to New Suns (2019)
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