Born on February 16, 1957 in Landstuhl, Germany, LeVar Burton is an actor and director best known for his roles as Kunta Kinte in the 1970s mini series Roots and Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The son of a US military family, he was born in West Germany at a US Army medical facility while his father was deployed at a nearby military based. At 13, he entered a seminary to originally become a priest. His plans changed when he entered and graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Theater.
Roots was a ground-breaking phenomenon in US television history, with a massive 37 Emmy nominations throughout its 8-episode run. Its finale still stands as the third highest rated US program ever, behind the series finale of MASH and the Super Bowl XLII. In fact, his role was so identified with Burton that he appeared as himself on a number of television shows during the late 1970s and early 1980s. This included Fantasy Island, Battle of the Network Stars, the Muppet Show (and movie), and a host of game shows. “After Roots, I did a lot of talk and game shows, and then I stopped. I didn't want to get over-exposed,” he said in a 1978 interview.
In 1986, Burton got another interesting offer, this time from Star Trek visionary Gene Roddenberry who wanted him to be a regular on the series. He began playing the role of Lieutenant Junior Grade Geordi La Forge in the series. The television series was followed with spin-off films, such as Star Trek Generations in 1994 and Star Trek nemesis in 2002.
Other than Roots and Star Trek, Burton also tried his hand at stage acting. He played the character of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 2001 film Ali. His other screen credits include the voice acting in several projects such as Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Family Guy, and Batman: The Animated Series.