Friday, October 11, 2013

Smoking and Driving with LeVar Burton

I was privledged to work with LeVar Burton on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine prior to working with him on the movie Star Trek: First Contact when he directed one of our episodes.  It was a wonderful meeting!  I was a Production Assistant on the show and was hard at work delivering script pages to the stage one day.  LeVar was standing outside of the stage taking a break and smoking a cigar.  I commented how wonderful the cigar smelled, and he said that he'd give me one on my way back out.  So, after delivering my pages, I came back out and, true to his word, he gave me a cigar.  Very patiently, he taught me how to cut it, light it and make a nice cone out of the center to keep it burning down evenly.  Long story short, he and I spent a lovely twenty minutes smoking quite companionably outside the stage.

All good things must end.  Eventually my boss, our Unit Production Manager (UPM) Bobby della Santina rode up on his bicycle and did a double-take to see his Production Assistant smoking cigars with his Director!  He growled and I hurriedly handed the cigar back to LeVar (who was doubled over laughing) and ran away back to work.  It is a great memory.  A bad habit, an expensive habit, but a great memory!  I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy a good Montecristo or Cohiba or Punch nowadays, but every once in while my enabling step-father buys me one (to my mother's dismay) and we smoke on the patio when we are back home visiting  :)

While watching videos online, I came across this YouTube video and it made me sad and angry at the same time.  LeVar made a video and he explains how he gets pulled over by the police due to racial profiling.  It makes angry that such a wonderful person should have to put up with such crap simply because of the pigment of his skin.  My son's best friend is a black boy and when we are out and about together, I hear the same type of crap directed towards us occasionally.  It is simply unacceptable and I do everything I can to stand against this type of racism. I am white, and it is imperative that people like myself take a stand against discrimination whenever and wherever I can.  What I can do is use that "white privilege" to make a difference.  As a person of a non-straight orientation, it is doubly important that I do so personally, especially since I can "pass" quite easily.  Our differences are what make us strong.  Diversity is the natural order of the world!

Anyway, here is LeVar's video.  I hope it makes you think as much as it did for me.  And thank you, LeVar, for teaching me to smoke, being an awesome director and a good person who is making a difference in this world of ours.

You can follow LeVar on Twitter at @levarburton -