LeVar Burton breaks down his campaign to host ‘Jeopardy!’
The cultural icon sat down with New York Times Magazine and broke down his desire to host the show, saying, "something inside me that says this makes sense"
In a profile for New York Times Magazine, LeVar Burton breaks down his campaign to host Jeopardy!, which has been in search of a new host since the passing of Alex Trebek last year.
Burton is known for countless roles that permeated pop culture, such as Kunta Kinte in ABC’s Roots, Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and host of Reading Rainbow. Now, the multi-talented artist has his sights set on another iconic position: host of one of America’s favorite game shows, Jeopardy!.
As David Marchese of the New York Times wrote in the piece, “Burton established himself as an icon of grace and humanism, an enduring part of the fabric of American culture,” making him a perfect candidate in many eyes to take on the legendary hosting gig.
Burton is officially set to guest-host the popular game show in late July, but last year the icon tweeted that he felt he was preparing “his whole life” to take on the gig. Expanding on that tweet, he shares in the story, “It’s difficult to explain, but there’s something inside me that says this makes sense. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I have been watching Jeopardy! more or less every night of my life since Art Fleming was host.”
He continued to speak to what it would mean for the culture to have a Black Jeopardy host, sharing, “Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant. Look, I have had a career for the [expletive] ages. Roots, Star Trek, Reading Rainbow. Won a Grammy. Got a shelf full of Emmys.
“I’m a storyteller, and game shows are tremendous stories. There’s a contest, there’s comedy, there’s drama. If you don’t know your [expletive] on Jeopardy! you’re sunk in full view of the entire nation. The stakes are high. I love that.”
In the interview, Burton acknowledges his nostalgic appeal, while also insisting his main goal is to be his true authentic self, no matter the role.
He shares, “yes, there are responsibilities that come along with this privilege of celebrity. With influence there is obligation. But my goal is to be authentic to myself as well as have a real relationship with those that I come in contact with through storytelling. That’s the nature of who I am. We love to make each other feel good, and feeling good is one of the privileges of being human, as is feeling at all. I gravitate toward the good vibe. As Jessica Rabbit said, ‘I’m just drawn that way.'”
Near the end of the interview, Burton shed light on how much he wants the hosting gig to work out, but makes it clear that if it does not work out for some reason, “it will all be OK.”
Responding to how he would feel if he does not land the gig, he explains, “It will hurt. I’m not going to lie. But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It’s all going to be OK. Because it always is.”
Read the full interview in which he breaks down his most memorable roles, thoughts on children’s programming, and more at the New York Times Magazine site here.
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