Arts & Entertainment

Authentic Storytelling

LeVar Burton

Lesson time 07:20 min

LeVar gives an overview of his life as a storyteller and explains why self-knowledge is key to telling any story.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Claime the Title · Make It Personal · Diversifying the Experience


[MUSIC PLAYING] - It hasn't been all of that long that I have been willing to claim the title storyteller. It's something that I believe that I have grown into over time. There are so many different ways of storytelling. In my own career, I story tell as an actor, as a director, as a writer, as a producer, as a podcaster, as a public speaker. There's storytelling through dance, through music, through painting. What being a storyteller means to me is one who is willing to take on the responsibility of bringing stories to the people. I believe that the stories that we tell one another are the foundation and set the parameters for who we are as people. We are continually telling each other our stories. What I do is tell stories on a conscious level. I'm always aware of the audience that I'm in front of and what-- what the message is. What's the purpose for the story? Is it to inform? Is it to educate? Is it to entertain? Is it to enlighten? There are so many different outcomes we can point ourselves to in the process of storytelling. But I think always the-- the uber purpose is for us to gain some sort of information mostly about ourselves and the human condition. Self-knowledge is key to finding your authentic storytelling nature. Because you know, they say as a-- as a writer, write what you know. As a storyteller, it is essential to know oneself in order to have that authentic place from which your story flows. And the-- the good ones, the great ones, all know themselves incredibly well and spend the time, put in the work necessary, to discover all aspects of who they are, the light as well as the dark, right? We have to be willing to go on that journey and discover things that we may not like about ourselves, but they are also a part of who we are. And we have to honor those dark impulses as well. There's shadow in everyone. And storytellers know that. They know that-- that the dark is as important as the light. And the journey of humanity is about finding our way through the darkness toward the light. [MUSIC PLAYING] The story of my life and-- and how it has shaped the storyteller in me I think is an interesting story. Because if you look at my career, I've been able to portray human experience through these vastly different characters in hugely disparate circumstances. And being able to play those characters successfully, authentically, is where the rubber meets the road. What makes the difference is the intention behind the story, right? What is it that you want to say? And-- and where is it from your personal experience that lends credence, that lends weight, gravitas, reality to the story that you're trying to tell? Allowing your personal experience to be a part of your storytelling is what helps round out your storytelling persona because that's coming from that, again, that authentic place inside. And authenticity is-- it's not automatic. For most of us, discovering our authentic selves is, ...

About the Instructor

With his iconic roles in Roots and Star Trek: The Next Generation and 23 years as the host of Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton has left an indelible mark on our culture. Now the Emmy, Grammy, and Peabody winner is sharing his approach to storytelling so you can connect authentically with any audience. Learn how to find intention, use your voice, and mine your experiences to be a more effective and dynamic storyteller.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

LeVar Burton

Emmy winner and Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton teaches you his techniques for more dynamic, authentic storytelling.

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