Actor, philanthropist, director, producer and author LeVar Burton first jumped into the spotlight in 1977 when he portrayed young Kunta Kinte on the revolutionary and award-winning ABC miniseries Roots. Nailing his first audition ever, Burton was given his first professional role — by portraying this Alex Haley hero he became a part of a national and generational consciousness.
In 1983, Burton became host and executive producer of PBS’ Reading Rainbow, kicking off the show’s impressive 23-year run and setting the standards that would eventually lead to over 200 broadcast awards. Accolades for Reading Rainbow include a Peabody Award and 26 Emmys, a dozen of which Burton won as host and producer.
In 1987, Burton took on the role of Geordi La Forge for Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The Next Generation which ran until 1994 and basically restarted the Star Trek franchise as a going concern on television. He went on to portray La Forge in the subsequent Star Trek: TNG films and as a guest star on several of the series’ spin-offs.
In 2014, Burton’s Kickstarter campaign to relaunch Reading Rainbow blew up the internet, basically overnight, taking in $5 million in three days.
Along with a continuing career in acting, Burton has remained an active advocate for literacy, AIDS research, civil rights and education. A touchstone and icon for multiple generations, LeVar’s accomplishments go far beyond those listed here. He is a generous, compelling force in American popular culture and a truly unpretentious humanitarian. We love him. 5eva.