LeVar Burton

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  • Award-Winning Actor, Writer, Producer, and Director
  • Renowned Literacy Advocate


LeVar Burton launched his acting career while still a student at the University of Southern California. Cast in the groundbreaking role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark television series Roots, at 19 he found himself on the cover of Time magazine. A seemingly impossible act to follow, Burton managed to do so in dramatic fashion, achieving further global acclaim as Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge in the iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation television series and feature films. But it has been his role as host and executive producer of the beloved PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow that he is most proud of. Airing from 1983 to 2009, it was not only one of the longest-running children’s television shows in history, but also one of the most acclaimed, earning over 200 awards including multiple Emmys and a Peabody. 

 

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Rave Reviews About LeVar Burton
LeVar crushed it! He received a standing ovation at the end. He was a total home run for us - a fabulous way to close out our Symposium!

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted LeVar Burton
  • Oakland University
  • Confab Events
  • Californians Dedicated to Education Foundation
TV Interview - Could LeVar Burton Be the Next Permanent Host of ‘Jeopardy!’? | Tamron Hall Show [5:35] - Get Sharable Link
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Martin Luther King Jr.: The Man and The Myth

"Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter" is one of the most famous quotes attributed to Dr. King, the truth is, there is no evidence to support that he actually ever spoke those words. In his speech, LeVar explores the conflicting nature of the man who was Martin Lu ...

"Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter" is one of the most famous quotes attributed to Dr. King, the truth is, there is no evidence to support that he actually ever spoke those words. In his speech, LeVar explores the conflicting nature of the man who was Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the mythical King of his legacy.

Storytelling in the Digital Age: Making a Difference in the Lives of Children

For the educational market, LeVar discusses the literacy problem in America, the future of the written word, and the impact of digital technologies. ...

For the educational market, LeVar discusses the literacy problem in America, the future of the written word, and the impact of digital technologies.

The Power of Storytelling: Written, Spoken, Lived

An inspirational speech in which LeVar discusses his 3 storytelling mentors: Alex Haley, Gene Roddenberry and Fred Rogers. Their influence on his life and the world at large as well as the power of our own personal narrative is a secondary theme. ...

An inspirational speech in which LeVar discusses his 3 storytelling mentors: Alex Haley, Gene Roddenberry and Fred Rogers. Their influence on his life and the world at large as well as the power of our own personal narrative is a secondary theme.

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<p>LeVar Burton is a champion of children’s education and speaks about the importance of education and literacy for every child</p>

LeVar Burton is a champion of children’s education and speaks about the importance of education and literacy for every child

Legendary actor LEVAR BURTON speaks frequently at top education events for groups such as NASA, ISTE, The National Education Association, and many more. He began his advocacy for education and literacy as host and executive producer of the well-known PBS children’s series, Reading Rainbow, which earned over 200 awards, including multiple Emmys and a Peabody, and was one of the longest-running children’s TV shows in history.  He further committed to improving children’s education by creating RRKidz, a digital educational publishing company, and relaunched the Reading Rainbow brand for the next generation of kids. He launched Skybrary, a digital reading service that adds new content weekly. Burton used Kickstarter to create an incredibly successful campaign to bring Reading Rainbow to “Every Child, Everywhere,” focusing on classrooms in need. Setting a crowdfunding record of its time, Burton was able to bring Skybrary to the web, making it accessible to the majority of American households as well as teachers and students.  He continues his storytelling and advocacy work with his podcast LeVar Burton Reads, where he performs a piece of short fiction each episode.

<p>Storyteller LeVar Burton reinforces his iconic status as Jeopardy and Masterclass host</p>

Storyteller LeVar Burton reinforces his iconic status as Jeopardy and Masterclass host

Award-winning actor, writer, producer, and director and renowned literacy advocate LEVAR BURTON hosted Jeopardy as a part of Jeopardy’s guest host series, after a petition with a quarter million signatures called for him to take part. Before he hosted, The New York Times wrote a profile on his preparation for the show and being a voice who has touched many generations, calling him “an icon of grace and humanism, an enduring part of the fabric of American culture.” After he hosted he gained even more media buzz, with articles and interviews on Good Morning America, Associated Press, MSNBC, NPR News, The Tamron Hall Show, Jeopardy, and more. 

The skills that make Burton a great Jeopardy guest host are the same ones he exemplifies in any event, as a beloved face of the public and a talented speaker. During his time hosting, his recognizable demeanor and hosting skills entertained crowds and caused many to call for him as a permanent host for the show. He received many rave reviews on social media, with viewers sharing, "His desire to educate and enlighten is both infectious and authentic. Jeopardy is beloved and iconic; so is Levar Burton!" ... "Levar brings star power and a long track record of commitment to education" ... "I really enjoyed watching him and just hearing his voice again. I seldom take the time to watch network television but I specifically tuned in for him and enjoyed it so much. I'd gladly return it to my repertoire" ... "After watching just one show with LaVar Burton, he should be the new permanent. He brought humor, charisma, energy and intelligence to the show ala Alex Trebek but in his own way" ... "Very fun time watching Mr. Burton! Please keep him!" ... "Levar is SO enthusiastic, positive, and engaging. He exudes happiness, and it makes me so happy to watch him!!" ... "LeVar again showing his warm humanity and his smarts as well. Let's keep him!" ... and "Really enjoying Levar as guest host. He is very fun and has a great personality and energy for the show. Wouldn’t mind seeing him as a permanent host."

Burton has been recognized his entire career as a master of storytelling and audience engagement, and recently gained even more accolades to show for it. Burton is leading a Masterclass on The Art of Storytelling, which has been profiled in VarietyParade, and more. Pulling from his time on The Reading Rainbow, Star Trek, and more, he shares how to become a great storyteller, while weaving in stories from his days on these iconic shows. He also discusses how storytelling has been a part of humanity for all of history, and why great storytelling connects us all together.  

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Biography

LeVar Burton launched his acting career while still a student at the University of Southern California. Cast in the groundbreaking role of Kunta Kinte in the landmark television series Roots, at 19 he found himself on the cover of Time magazine. A seemingly impossible act to follow, Burton managed to do so in dramatic fashion, achieving further global acclaim as Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge in the iconic Star Trek: The Next Generation television series and feature films. But it has been his role as host and executive producer of the beloved PBS children’s series Reading Rainbow that he is most proud of. Airing from 1983 to 2009, it was not only one of the longest-running children’s television shows in history, but also one of the most acclaimed, earning over 200 awards including multiple Emmys and a Peabody.

Always committed to improving children’s education through innovative uses of storytelling, in 2012 Burton launched RRKidz, a digital educational publishing company, co-founded with business partner Mark Wolfe. Together they hold the global rights to the Reading Rainbow brand through a partnership with series creator, WNED/Buffalo. Reading Rainbow was reimagined to combine today’s forms of media and technology with the goal of inspiring a new generation of children to love reading. The all-new Reading Rainbow is a digital reading service filled with over 500 children’s fiction and non-fiction books, newly produced video field trips and new content added every week. With over 16 million books and videos enjoyed since launch, Reading Rainbow is the number one educational app on iTunes and recipient of numerous awards.

Most recently, Burton turned to Kickstarter to bring Reading Rainbow to “Every Child, Everywhere” –   especially to classrooms in need. The campaign met its 35-day goal of raising $1 million in less than 11 hours, and became the most popular Kickstarter campaign ever with over 105,000 backers and a final tally of over $6.4 million. As a result, in 2015 RRKidz will introduce Reading Rainbow EDU, complete with engaging supplemental learning content for teachers and students.

And in October, 2014, Reading Rainbow published Burton’s first children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, a powerful and uplifting story to help children cope with the difficulties of everyday life.

The honored recipient of 12 Emmy Awards, a Grammy and five NAACP Awards, Burton has demonstrated in his career that he can do it all —acting, directing, producing, writing and speaking. He is often invited as a keynote speaker at leading education and technology events, most recently speaking at NASA, ISTE, The National Headstart Association and many more.

And in 2014, with educational groups, business organizations and media clamoring to recognize him for the record-setting Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, Burton was named Geek of the Year in the annual Geekie Awards, was listed as one of Ebony magazine’s Power 100, and earned the World Tech Award for Education, awarded by the World Technology Network.

He now enters his fourth decade in the industry, with millions of fans throughout the world, and continues his mission to inspire, entertain and educate.