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LeVar Burton Makes Jeopardy! Ambitions Clear in NYT

LeVar Burton, Jeopardy!

LeVar Burton's journey to Jeopardy! guest host has been well-documented. Now, the actor, director, and host opened up about his joy at helming the game show to The New York Times' David Marchese.

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What made Burton want to stand at Alex Trebek's lectern? He explained:

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. '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. 

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Burton discussed diversifying his skill set, from acting to hosting and beyond. He dished:

When I didn’t get certain acting jobs, it forced me to develop other skill sets, and that was obviously part of the plan because now I’m able to do what I do as an actor, writer, producer, director, podcaster, storyteller, public speaker. It all happened perfectly because here I am. I feel like this life is a gift. I used to wonder what it was that I did in previous lifetimes to deserve it. How did my soul get here? This is hard to put into words, David: There are times when I experience my life as having been for a specific purpose. I look at Kunta. I look at Geordi. I’ve been able to express humanity as enslaved in the past and as free in the future and do it as a completely liberated Black man. It’s kind of mind-blowing. 

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Burton is hoping to get the Jeopardy! gig full time. How will he feel if someone else is selected? He said:

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.