How LeVar Burton Switched from Star Trek Actor to Director

LeVar Burton’s journey through the cosmic realms of Star Trek is a testament to his profound impact on one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises in television history. Renowned for his portrayal of Geordi La Forge, Burton’s transition from the front of the camera to the director’s chair illustrates a versatile career marked by passion and innovation.

How LeVar Burton Switched from Star Trek Actor to Director: His Journey Beyond the VISOR
LeVar Burton’s Directorial Debut

LeVar Burton’s Iconic Role as Geordi La Forge

Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge is an emblematic figure, chiefly recognized by his signature VISOR—a device that enabled him to see despite being blind from birth. LeVar Burton’s performance in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” earned him a special place in the hearts of fans. His character, the chief engineer of the USS Enterprise-D, navigated through interstellar adventures with a blend of intellect and empathy, making La Forge one of the series’ most endearing characters.

Burton’s experience on the show, however, was not without its challenges. The demands of early call times, extensive makeup sessions, and the physical discomfort of wearing the VISOR led him to seek other opportunities within the franchise.

Transitioning Behind the Camera

After his extensive stint in front of the camera, Burton embraced the role of director, a decision that allowed him to contribute to the Star Trek universe from a new perspective. His directorial debut in “The Next Generation” was just the beginning of what would become a significant aspect of his career. Burton went on to direct episodes across multiple Star Trek series, including “Voyager,” “Deep Space Nine,” and “Enterprise,” making him the cast member who has helmed the most episodes.

How LeVar Burton Switched from Star Trek Actor to Director: His Journey Beyond the VISOR
From Actor to Director

Do I miss that? Nooooo, sir. I don’t have to get up at 6:00 a.m. I don’t have to get into a space suit. I don’t have to put on that VISOR. Miss it? No. No.

A Lifelong Fan and Advocate for Representation

Burton’s affinity for Star Trek began long before his casting in “The Next Generation.” As a young fan, the original series instilled in him a belief in a future where diversity and inclusion were the norms. The presence of characters like Nichelle Nichols’ Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise was particularly impactful.

Growing up Black in America, seeing Nichelle Nichols there, seeing that when the future comes, there’s a place for me. That was really important. I think people forget how important it is to see oneself represented in the popular culture growing up.

This ethos of Star Trek—envisioning a future devoid of racism and stereotypes—resonated deeply with Burton and influenced his contributions to the series, both on-screen and behind the scenes.

How LeVar Burton Switched from Star Trek Actor to Director: His Journey Beyond the VISOR
Beyond the VISOR


LeVar Burton’s Star Trek legacy is multifaceted, marked by memorable performances, influential directorial work, and a personal connection to the franchise’s pioneering vision. As he moved from wearing the VISOR to calling the shots behind the camera, Burton demonstrated a profound commitment to storytelling that challenges the final frontier. His journey in the Star Trek universe is not just a tale of career evolution but also a beacon of inspiration, highlighting the importance of visibility and representation in shaping the futures we imagine and the realities we create.

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