Best known for his work as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek The Next Generation and hosting duties on the long running PBS series Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton’s career has been punctuated by exceptional roles in landmark series.
LeVar Burton made his acting debut in 1977 when he played Kunta Kinte in the ABC award-winning drama series Roots, based on the novel by Alex Haley. Burton’s audition for the role of Kinte was the first of his professional career. As a result of his performance, he was nominated for the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series.
For a remarkable 23 seasons Burton served as the host and executive producer of Reading Rainbow, making it one of the longest running children’s programs on PBS. Furthermore, the series garnered over 200 broadcast awards over its run, including a Peabody Award and 26 Emmy Awards, 11 of which were in the “Outstanding Children’s Series” category.
In 1986, Gene Roddenberry approached him with the role of the then Lieutenant Junior Grade Geordi La Forge in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series. La Forge is blind, but is granted “sight” through the use of a prosthetic device called a VISOR, which is worn over his eyes. La Forge is the USS Enterprise’s helmsman, and as of the show’s second season, its Chief Engineer.
Burton also portrayed La Forge in the subsequent feature films based on Star Trek: The Next Generation, beginning with Star Trek Generations in 1994 through 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. Burton directed the season one episode of Star Trek: Voyager titled “Ex Post Facto” as well as season two episode of Star Trek: Voyager titled “Dreadnought.” Also an accomplished director, Burton has directed and appeared in the season five episode of Star Trek: Voyager titled “Timeless” and directed several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise.
In 2014, Burton spearheaded a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow back. Now focused on reaching children through web videos and mobile apps, Reading Rainbow is introducing an entirely new generation of children to the joy of reading.