Drew Barrymore will be replaced as host of the 74th annual National Book Awards by LeVar Burton. Last month, Barrymore was replaced as a result of backlash over her decision to resume her talk show amid the writers’ strike.
LeVar underlined his fervent confidence in the power of written language in his response to the news. He also took pride in working with the National Book Foundation to honor excellent storytelling and achieve their objective of making books accessible to people everywhere. LeVar stressed how happy he was to be hosting the awards, especially at a time when book bans are on the rise.
He views it as a privilege to host this important literary event, especially at a time when the right to read is under attack, and serves as a reminder that literature merits appreciation and support.
LeVar is not hosting the ceremony for the first time
LeVar Burton has experience hosting events like this one; he presided over the 2019 awards ceremony. He has a long history of supporting reading, most notably through his popular show, Reading Rainbow, which ran for more than two decades. He has been an ardent opponent of book bans.
LeVar received praise from Ruth Dickey, executive director of the National Book Foundation, for his work as the much-loved host of Reading Rainbow and his most recent film, “The Right to Read,” which fervently supports the world of books and has inspired a great many readers.
Dickey stressed the significance of this year because of the increased risks to books and expressed extreme gratitude that Burton, a devoted supporter of authors, translators, and readers worldwide, will serve as the host of the 2023 National Book Awards. LeVar Burton also hosts a podcast called “LeVar Burton Reads,” where he narrates short stories, in addition to his many other endeavors.
More about the LeVar Burton
American actor, director, and TV host LeVar Burton works in several fields. He is well-known for playing Geordi La Forge from 1987 to 1994 on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and for playing Kunta Kinte in the ABC miniseries “Roots” in 1977. In addition, from 1983 to 2006, he hosted the educational TV program “Reading Rainbow” on PBS Kids for an astonishing 23 years. He was the executive producer and host of “Reading Rainbow,” for which he won a Peabody Award and 12 Daytime Emmys.
In his acting career, LeVar Burton has taken on a variety of roles, including Cap Jackson in “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” (1977), Donald Lang in “Dummy” (1979), Tommy Price in “The Hunter” (1980), for which he won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, and Martin Luther King Jr. in “Ali” (2001).
In acknowledgment of his reading of “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.,” Burton received the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards. In 1990, he was also honored for his television achievements when he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Additionally, he had the privilege of being chosen as the Grand Marshal of the Pasadena, California, Rose Parade in 2022.
In West Germany’s Landstuhl, LeVar Burton was born. His father, Erma Gene, worked as a photographer for the U.S. Army Signal Corps and was stationed in Landstuhl when LeVar was born. His mother, Erma Gene, was a social worker, administrator, and educator. LeVar and his two sisters were raised by their mother in Sacramento, California, following the divorce of their parents.
LeVar Burton, who was raised in the Catholic faith, enrolled in St. Pius X Minor Seminary in Galt, California, in his teenage years with the primary intention of becoming a priest. But when he was 17, he started to have second thoughts about his Catholic faith and changed his course to pursue acting. When he was 19 years old and enrolled at the University of Southern California, he was cast in a big part as the protagonist of the 1977 TV miniseries “Roots.”