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LeVar Burton          

Actor & Literacy Advocate

Speaker LeVar Burton has been capturing the attention of admiring audiences and industry peers for three decades, and continues to enjoy a career longevity truly rare within the industry. Whether acting, directing, producing or writing, Burton has demonstrated that he can do it all.

As if following some implausible Hollywood scenario, Burton's first professional audition, while pursuing his undergraduate studies at USC, led to his being cast as "Kunta Kinte" in the acclaimed miniseries Roots. The phenomenal success of Roots launched his career as an actor, and more importantly, earned his performance as "Kunta Kinte" a lasting status as a worldwide icon representing the indomitability of the human spirit. What followed were starring roles in a string of television movies, including One in a Million: The Ron Leflore Story, Dummy, Grambling's White Tiger, The Guyana Tragedy and A Roots Christmas: Kunta Kinte's Gift. Among his early feature film credits are Looking for Mr. Goodbar with acclaimed writer/director Richard Brooks, and Steve McQueen's final motion picture, The Hunter.

An avowed science fiction buff as well as a devoted fan of the unique vision of Gene Rodenberry, Burton has directed numerous episodes of all four Star Trek series: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise, and considers his longtime association with the Star Trek franchise nothing short of a dream come true. Growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Burton remembers it as a time "rare to encounter portrayals of people who looked like [him] represented in the popular culture." Having both appeared in and directed a plethora of Trek incarnations over the years, he adamantly adheres to his optimistic point of view of the future, saying, "I'm betting on our ultimate success at rising to our highest level of human expression."

After 25 seasons as the host and executive producer of the highly acclaimed PBS children's television series Reading Rainbow, Burton ended his longtime commitment to the show in favor of exploring other avenues of creative expression. While taking great pride in the series' role in garnering him a total of 13 Emmy Awards, five NAACP Awards and numerous nominations, he is most proud of Reading Rainbow's ability to "use the medium of television to help create generations of Americans who are passionate readers."

Burton has directed various episodes of Charmed and Las Vegas. His first dramatic television movie, The Tiger Woods Story, which he directed for Showtime, received great critical acclaim as well as three Emmy nominations. He also directed the enormously popular Disney Channel original film, Smart House.

In 2006, Burton received a Grammy for his narration of the book, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. He has also recorded on tape The Watsons Go to Birmingham, The Miles Davis Story, The Jackie Robinson Story, and The Tenth Insight and The Celestine Vision by James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy.

Today, while primarily focusing his energy behind the camera as a successful film and television director, Burton sees himself as a trained storyteller, who is "in love with the visual medium." His first feature film, Blizzard, was shot in Toronto and Quebec City, stars Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Plummer, Brenda Blethyn, and Kevin Pollak, and was produced by Robert Schwartz and Ralph Winter. His most recent feature film project, Reach for Me, starring Alfre Woodard and Seymour Cassel, is currently playing to enthusiastic audiences on the independent festival circuit.

Burton was born in Landsthul, West Germany where his father was stationed during military service. He was two years old when his family returned to the United States.

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Reviews


HighEdWeb 2016

Speech Topics


"An Evening With LeVar Burton"

Technology & Storytelling: Making a Difference in the Digital Age

Join LeVar Burton as he shares the powerful impact that his mentors, technology, storytelling, and science fiction have had on his life and how each has helped shape his incredible life's work. Be there as he concludes the session with a personal demonstration of how he employs today's latest technologies in his efforts to educate and enlighten—a world premier peek at his latest project, the Reading Rainbow App.

The Importance of Literacy

The Influence of the Media in Education

The Power of Imagination

On Reaching One's Full Potential

Books


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Aftermath
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Aftermath
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News


'Star Trek's' Inclusive Vision of Future Inspired Actor LeVar Burton ...

'Star Trek' inspired a generation of young people, including LeVar Burton, who went on to star in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.' Read more about his ...

How 'Star Trek' Vision of Future Inspired Next Generation Actor ...

From Yahoo News: Playing Geordi La Forge on TV's "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was more than just a job to actor LeVar Burton.

'Community' Season 5: LeVar Burton to return, terrify Troy - Zap2it

LeVar Burton will return to “Community” in Season 5. Presumably, he will reprise playing himself in order to traumatize Troy (Donald Glover).

LeVar Burton explains his 'driving while black' traffic stop ritual ...

LeVar Burton explains his 'driving while black' traffic stop ritual. by Andy Macdonald Posted: July 3, 2013 4:18 PM Last Updated: July 3, 2013 4:45 PM.

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