Depending on your age, you either know LeVar Burton as Kunta Kinte on the groundbreaking Seventies series Roots, as the host of the classic Eighties educational TV show Reading Rainbow, or, of course, as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“I put myself out there and publicly stated that I wanted the job on Jeopardy!” Burton said. “When I didn’t get the job, there was a lot of unnecessary concern that I was devastated, when in fact I wasn’t. I was disappointed, but I wasn’t devastated.”
Burton continued, “As a public personality, who you are is commented on and subject to the whims of people who don’t know you. In the age of social media, you have access to the good, the bad, and the ugly of what people think about you, [like] seeing on my Twitter, “Oh, he was terrible!” “He was the worst of all the guest hosts.” “He shit the bed!” Shit the bed? I don’t think I was that bad! You gotta have thick skin. As Forrest Gump would say, ‘That’s all I’m gonna say about that.’”
Back in June, while chatting with The New York Times Magazine, Burton revealed his desire to be tapped as the next host. “I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host. Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant.”
During a September appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, the Reading Rainbow host talked about why he is no longer pursuing the hosting spot and where he hopes his career goes from here.
“The crazy thing is that when you set your sights on something…they say be careful of what you wish for, because what I found out is that it wasn’t the thing that I wanted after all,” Burton explained. “What I wanted was to compete. I mean, I wanted the job, right, but then, when I didn’t get it, it was, like ‘Well, okay, what’s next?’”
Earlier this month, it was announced that Burton had snagged a new gig as the next master of ceremonies for Hasbro and Entertainment One’s television gameshow adaptation of Trivial Pursuit.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Reading Rainbow host will also be stepping on to executive produce the series. When the president of global unscripted television at eOne, Tara Long, spoke about Burton, she said that working with him on the new show was a no-brainer.
Not only does LeVar have love on his side and a new game show in his future, but Ava DuVernay also expressed her hopes for a team up as well. The future is bright.