LeVar Burton To Host 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee
Burton said he wants to use the opportunity as a chance to "normalize the pursuit of knowledge in this culture."
December 16, 2021 at 6:11 pm
LeVar Burton has signed on to host the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee. According to AP News, the Reading Rainbow host said it was a no-brainer to say yes to the opportunity. Being a staunch literacy advocate, Burton comes from a line of educators and said the national spelling bee represents “the inspirational, aspirational ideal of education."
Accomplished actor, director, educator and lifelong children’s literacy advocate @levarburton will serve as host of the @ScrippsBee. Read today's press release: https://t.co/MG2iWzAFR2
— The E.W. Scripps Co. (@EWScrippsCo) December 16, 2021
“The selection of Mr. Burton as host aligns with the mission of the Scripps National Spelling Bee,” Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, said in a press release. “To have such a prominent advocate for children’s literacy involved in this special and unique competition is a perfect match. We have the same goals: to educate tomorrow’s leaders and build reading competency in all young people.”
Burton told AP News that he wants to use the opportunity as a chance to "normalize the pursuit of knowledge in this culture."
“Hosting the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be an honor,” Burton said in the release. “Like a lot of folks, I look forward to the competition every year and am excited to be a part of this wonderful tradition that celebrates excellence.”
Burton said he is just as excited for the winners as any other fan. He especially found himself cheering for 2021's winner, Zaila Avant-garde, the spelling bee's first Black winner.
“Zaila was a surprise, and a bit of an anomaly,” Burton said. “I’m big for rooting for the underdog. As an underdog myself, I really identify.”
In the role, Burton said he plans to help "tell the stories of these kids, that’s something that I know I can bring to the proceedings.”
Burton isn't the only person excited that he's hosting the show. The 2021 runner-up, Chaitra Thummala, who has plans to return to the competition this year, showed some enthusiasm regarding the news about Burton as well. Though, the seventh-grader wasn't too up to date on Burton's extensive resume.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s good to have the bee have some publicity. I think it’ll be fun,” Thummala said. “I don’t know him, I don’t know who he is at all, so I can’t say much on it.”
The job comes following Burton's unsuccessful bid to become the permanent Jeopardy! host and replace Alex Trebek, who died of cancer last year.