|Full Name||Levar Burton Jr.|
|Birthday||February 16, 1957|
Levar Burton Jr.: renowned actor, director, Star Trek‘s Geordi La Forge & Reading Rainbow host.
Early Life and Formative Experiences
LeVar Burton was born on February 16, 1957 at the U.S. Army Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in West Germany to American parents serving in the U.S. Army. As a self-described "military brat," Burton spent his childhood moving from army base to army base across Europe. This transient lifestyle exposed Burton to diverse cultures and experiences that shaped his worldview.
When Burton was 13, his family finally settled in Sacramento, California. It was there that Burton first discovered his passion for performing. In high school, he participated in several school plays and local theater productions. According to Burton, those early experiences on stage lit a fire in him that still burns to this day.
Meteoric Rise to Fame
Burton‘s big break came in 1977 when he landed the career-defining role of Kunta Kinte in the ABC miniseries Roots. Burton was only 19 years old at the time, yet he delivered an emotionally powerful performance that introduced him to a global audience. The acclaimed series received 37 Emmy nominations and won nine Emmys along with a Golden Globe. Burton became internationally recognized practically overnight.
Just a few years later in 1983, Burton embarked on another iconic role as the host of PBS‘s beloved educational series Reading Rainbow. As host for over 20 years, Burton used his charm and passion for literature to inspire generations of young readers. The show won over 250 awards including 26 Emmys and a Peabody Award.
Beloved Character Actor
In 1987, Burton joined the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation as Geordi La Forge, the Enterprises‘s Chief Engineer. Burton portrayed the iconic character, who was blind from birth yet saw through the aid of technology, for all 7 seasons of the show and in four Star Trek films.
Throughout his prolific career, Burton has appeared in a diverse range of TV shows, films, and stage productions. He often gravitates towards characters that break boundaries and challenge stereotypes. His acting has earned him numerous accolades including 7 Emmy Awards.
Activism and Philanthropy
Off-screen, Burton has dedicated his life to activism and philanthropy. He served on the Board of Directors of RIF (Reading is Fundamental) for over a decade, spreading awareness about youth literacy. Burton also lent his voice to fundraising campaigns for organizations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and AIDS Project Los Angeles.
In 2012, Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to revive Reading Rainbow for the YouTube generation. The campaign exceeded its $1 million goal in less than 24 hours and went on to raise over $6 million. This allowed Burton to reinvent the series as a digital platform promoting literacy in the 21st century.
The Legacy of LeVar Burton
LeVar Burton’s career has spanned over 40 years, yet his passion for storytelling and social good remains stronger than ever. He continues to push boundaries as an actor while advocating for important causes close to his heart. Above all, Burton strives to use his platform to uplift and educate. He once said, “Everything I do is geared towards creating a positive legacy.” There’s no doubt that Burton has more than achieved this goal. His unique spirit and tremendous talent have made him one of the most beloved and unforgettable multi-hyphenates in Hollywood history.