The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance has announced that actor, director, producer and entrepreneur LeVar Burton will be the featured speaker at the School's commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 3, at 2 PM in the Power Center.
LeVar Burton has been capturing the attention of both audiences and his industry peers for three decades and continues to enjoy longevity truly rare within the industry. His dexterity continues to be a hallmark of an incredibly diverse career. While probably best known for his role as Kunta Kinte in the acclaimed miniseries Roots and his longtime association with the Star Trek franchise, Burton served as host and executive producer of the PBS children's television series Reading Rainbow for 26 years. While taking great pride in the series' role in garnering him a total of 12 Emmy Awards, five NAACP Awards, and numerous other accolades, he continues to be proudest of Reading Rainbow's ability to "use the medium of television to help create generations of Americans who are passionate readers."
Behind the scenes, Burton is a highly respected director with credits that include all four Star Trek series, and numerous commercials and TV series. His first dramatic television movie, The Tiger Woods Story, for Showtime, received three Emmy nominations. His Disney Channel film Smart House remains one of the most popular original movies in the channel's history. His first full-length feature film, Blizzard, was voted "Best of Fest" at the 2006 Chicago International Children's Film Festival and has joined the pantheon of classic holiday movies. Reach For Me, his most recent feature film directorial effort, received global accolades for its empathetic, human portrayal of the issues surrounding the end of life and the meaning of a full life. Burton continues to grow into a popular culture icon with appearances on The Big Bang Theory, Community, The Jimmy Fallon Show, Watch What Happens Live, and many other programs.
In 2011, Burton and his business partner, producer Mark Wolfe, formed RRKIDZ, building the first all new cross-media children's enrichment brand in decades. As worldwide rights holder to Reading Rainbow, RRKIDZ, Burton and Wolfe launched the beloved brand to new generations through their first product, the Reading Rainbow iPad app. The highly successful project (number one educational app) is just the latest in Burton's lifelong advocacy on behalf of children, literacy, education, entertainment, diversity, and enrichment.