Q&A With Levar Burton
LeVar Burton’s appearance at Fan Expo was nearly only moments long. Ushered on by InnerSpace‘s Ajay Fry, Burton ran across the stage, not stopping while he waved at the crowd and headed straight across the stage towards the exit. “Ladies and gentleman,” said Ajay, “LaVar Burton!” Luckily, he came back. Of course, it was all a thinly veiled ruse, given everyone knows Burton loves his fans–and Canadians for that matter. Looking out over the packed hall Geordi from Star Trek: The Next Generation feigned a panic attack as eager fans looked back at him. “I’ve never seen so many Canadians in one place,” he proclaimed, collapsing in his chair. Taking off his sunglasses and getting down to business, Burton happily answered questions from fans, let us know what he thought about Sir Patrick Stewart cancelling on Fan Expo and took a few good jabs at Ajay…
Reminiscing about the TNG reunion in Calgary this past April (moderated by the whole InnerSpace team), Burton goaded Ajay, ribbing the host about being a “professional journalist.” The silly rapport between the pair was contagious, as soon over 500 people were laughing along as Burton joked Ajay was no professional and that he “loved space…and the TV channel too!” Burton didn’t mince his worlds when Ajay asked about how he felt that Stewart had cancelled last minute. Calling the Captain Picard actor “Sir Patrick ass-hat”, with a large grin Burton quickly prefaced his comments noting: “If you can’t throw your friends under the bus, then who can you?”
While Burton is best (or at least most popularly) known for his role as Geordi on TNG, his has a solid fan based from his long-running television show Reading Rainbow. Given the program was immensely popular in Canada, it wasn’t surprising the first question from the audience was about the children’s literacy show. Holding nothing back, the fan asked exactly what everyone wanted to hear: Would Burton lead a Reading Rainbow sing-a-long? And he did. And it was fantastic.
The rest of the queries ranged from TNG specific questions (his favourite episodes, for the record, were those when Geordi and Data were Holmes and Watson), to the role Geordi played in empowering people with disabilities, to his recent work on Family Guy, Community (he confirmed he will have another performance) and hinted at an upcoming appearance on The Big Bang Theory. But what was most apparent in the panel was Burton’s positivity and intelligence. When asked what he thought the legacy of Star Trek would be he paused, weighting the question: “Gene’s [Roddenberry] vision of the future…it’s a future I’d not only like to live in, but a future I’d like to help create.”