LeVar Burton & Mica Burton on the La Forge Family Dynamic
Mar 25, 2023
The third and final season of Star Trek: Picard is shaping up to be one of the best seasons of Star Trek—ever—and a large part of that is due to the care that has gone into crafting a long-overdue Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion. The first handful of episodes reunited Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) with William Riker (Jonathan Frakes), as they set off across the galaxy on a mission to rescue Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and her son Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers), who she had hid from Picard for twenty years.
With the Changeling threat looming over all of them, Picard and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan find themselves at the Fleet Museum in Episode 6, where Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and his daughter Alandra La Forge (Mica Burton) are pulled into the slowly unraveling mystery, reuniting them with old friends and La Forge’s other daughter Sidney La Forge (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut). At New York Comic Con last year, in addition to revealing The Next Generation cast that would be returning for Star Trek: Picard Season 3, it was revealed that LeVar Burton’s real-life daughter Mica Burton, would be officially joining the Star Trek family as La Forge’s daughter Alandra.
Ahead of the Episode 6 premiere, Collider had the opportunity to sit down and speak with LeVar and Mica Burton about working together on the third season of Star Trek: Picard, in addition to discussing how this Geordi La Forge compares to the anti-time future Geordi La Forge in The Next Generation finale, what it was like for Mica to work with her on-screen sister Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, where she thinks Alandra would fit into a potential spin-off, and what they can tease about the rest of the season, including an Easter egg that fans should keep an eye out for.
COLLIDER: So in the Star Trek: The Next Generation finale, Geordi has kids in the anti-time future, which happened to also be named Alandra and Sidney. How would you compare that version of Geordi with this version?
LEVAR BURTON: In this version, we are certain that the mother of Geordi’s children is not Dr. Leah Brahms.
Okay, interesting. Is that something that we might learn, or is there somebody that you have in mind in your head when you’re playing the role?
MICA BURTON: Beyoncé. I’ve made it canon that our mother is Beyoncé. Terry Matalas has confirmed it on Twitter.
Image via Paramount+
Oh, well, there you go. Mica, one of the highlights of the Star Trek panel at New York Comic-Con last year was the announcement that you would be joining your dad in the series. It was so great, I was with my mom, and I was right behind you in the theater, and it was just the coolest thing. But I’m really curious to know what the process was like for you joining the show.
MICA: Well, it wasn’t something that I think my dad and I ever thought was going to happen, seeing as I really love to make my name outside of his, and also, I was never a fan of Star Trek… I was a Star Wars kid. But, when Terry wrote this new story for Geordi, and it involved daughters, and it coincided with a time in my career that I felt I had established myself in my own right, and now would be a really fun time to work with my dad, the opportunity presented itself to audition. And audition I did.
Excellent. I worked on a superhero movie with my mom, and it was like the coolest experience to share together. What was this like for both of you to work together in Star Trek?
LEVAR: On many levels, it was next level. Because not ever having expected this, this soon in her career, this comes as a great surprise, as well as a great gift. And she’s been a part of the Star Trek family behind the scenes, off-camera for the whole of her life. She was actually born just a couple of weeks after we finished Star Trek Generations.
Actually, no. In fact, no. She was supposed to have been born a couple of weeks after we finished Generations, but she came a little early. I finished Generations, was going to go on a personal retreat up to the mountains, and the night before I left for retreat, she came.
MICA: I am so sorry I ruined your trip.
LEVAR: So I say that to say, what a thrill it was for me to work with her, but also to see her work with the rest of the cast that have been members of her family since she got here.
MICA: Yeah, I don’t think I remember a time in my life without Uncle Michael, Uncle Patrick, Aunt Marina, Aunt Gates, et cetera, et cetera. They’ve always been there. So it was such a phenomenal experience. And, being as we are all also professional actors, it was incredibly business and professional when the cameras were rolling, but to be able to sit off-set with people that you’ve known for almost three decades, I’ll never have an opportunity like this again. This is a very once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
LEVAR: But also, to see how all of these other professionals, both in front of and behind the camera, regarded Mica as another professional in the mix. That makes both her mother and me very proud.
It’s very exciting. Mica, for you in Episode 6, we see that Alandra is a little bit more like her dad than Sidney is, but what would you say is Alandra’s guiding light for how she navigates her career and her life?
MICA: I think it really is, it is her father. A mannerism I picked up from my dad on set that he didn’t notice until he saw the first picture of us in uniform together, is that I hold my hands exactly how he holds his hands in front of him and behind him. And I think that that is kind of who Alandra is. She so much looks up to her father that she so much wants to be like him, but also envies Sidney for having the courage to be somewhat different. But I think that both sisters have their own little mini versions of Geordi in themselves.
Image via Paramount+
I love that. LeVar, going back to you. I know all of you that have been in The Next Generation, you have a little bit of ownership in terms of your characters and the things you’ve talked about them over the years in that interim time. But for you, how much do you have mapped out for what’s been going on in his life over these last 20 years, or so?
LEVAR: None, except to say he got married and had kids, and it wasn’t with Leah Brahms.
Something I really love about Picard is how they’ve brought back The Next Generation characters and shown that they haven’t stayed stagnant from the last time we saw them. They’ve evolved, for better and for worse, and it makes for really compelling television. Can you talk about playing Geordi as someone who seems a little bit more by-the-books than he was maybe the last time we saw him?
LEVAR: I guess in terms of filling in the blanks, there is more than what I just said because obviously there’s been a lot of professional development that has happened in the intervening years. Geordi is an admiral, and is in charge of one of the most precious assets–
LEVAR: Commodore. Well, that’s a Rear Admiral. Commodore is a Rear Admiral.
MICA: I’m sorry I don’t know the naval terms! Commodore La Forge, not Admiral La Forge.
LEVAR: You’re right, you’re right. You’re absolutely right. Geordi is a commodore.
MICA: Thank you.
LEVAR: And he’s in charge of the Starfleet Museum, which is one of the most precious resources that the Federation owns. Yeah, and he is a parent, and Picard is gallivanting around the galaxy with my kid, Sidney. And Geordi feels a certain way about Picard putting her in danger. So yeah, Geordi is a little bit more by the book. Geordi isn’t all lovey-dovey. When we first encounter him in Episode 6, he has a few things he needs to get off his chest.
Just a few. Mica, now that we’ve seen this glimpse of the next generation of The Next Generation with Sidney and Alandra, and Jack, I feel like the audience is not going to want to let go of these characters. If there is any hope of a potential spinoff—I know Terry and so forth on Twitter have been really hoping for something like that, and I know fans are as well—how do you think Alandra would fit into something like that?
MICA: I mean, Alandra is an engineer. She knows exactly her position, she knows that position well. She’ll fit in on any Starship, and also she needs to keep an eye on her sister. Older sisters aren’t always right. Older sisters don’t always know what they’re doing. You need the younger sister’s intuition to kind of be there and keep her out of trouble. So I think that any sister dynamic is always fun to watch happen, any sibling dynamic. So two siblings on a Starship, that’s never happened before. We need to see that. We need to see how that would go down. I would love to continue this role, and I know that Ashlei Sharpe, who plays Sidney, she has become my sister in real life. Ed and I have also become great friends. All three of us are pals. We would love to continue being the next Next Generation together.
I love that. What has it been like for you getting to explore this sister dynamic with Ashlei?
MICA: So fun. [It’s] just me in my household, I’m the only burden, so I’ve never had a sibling, I’ve never had a sister. So, to come in and feel like I have a sister every day on set– I mean, Ashlei and I would text each other every day. We still do. We hang out all the time. She came to Thanksgiving at our house during Picard filming because she didn’t have enough time over break to go home. So we were like, “Obviously, you’re part of our family.” And she really is.
I mean, she was there every step of the way while I was meeting my now-boyfriend, giving me advice, helping me craft texts, and they finally got to meet at the Picard premiere and it was almost like they already knew each other. It was great. I really do feel like—I know it’s such a cliche that my onscreen sister is like my sister, but I would fight a million people for Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, over and over again.
Well, that’s how you know she’s a real sister now because she’s been helping you craft those texts.
MICA: I know! I was like, we’ve already done girl-talk, sleepover time, and she’s helped me nail down my boyfriend. I genuinely don’t know if I would’ve been as smooth in my texts without Ashlei’s help.
I love that so much. LeVar, for you, something I’ve really been impressed with this season of Picard is the amount of Easter eggs and hidden nuggets that can be found, that are built into this set. Were there any that you saw that really caught your attention or something that was like, this is how they know Geordi?
LEVAR: Absolutely. Can I talk about them? I don’t think… Can I?
MICA: There’s not a lot we can talk about.
LEVAR: I’ll say yes, there are, and I can say this: watch very closely at the phone call that Geordi has with Picard. When my character enters the adventure, pay close attention to the environment that Geordi is in.
Image via Paramount+
Okay, that’s a good tease. This is a question for both of you, it’s a little bit fun. I really love that scene in Episode 6 where Jack and Seven are looking at all of the ships that are at the Fleet Museum. If you could abscond with one of the iconic Star Trek ships, which one would you choose?
MICA: Honestly, and maybe this is because I’m biased, it would be the Titan [which] is, technically, now iconic. It would be the Titan, and no offense, it’s because so many of the older ships are carpeted, and I really don’t vibe with that. I feel like that’s a hazard waiting to happen. I don’t want to have to bring a carpet cleaner to space, so I’m going to go with the Titan. No offense to your Enterprise.
LEVAR: That’s incredible. I love that, but you know, nobody wears heels on the Enterprise.
MICA: And maybe that was another problem, heels slap. I’m just saying.
Oh, I love that so much.
MICA: What about you? What ship would you take?
LEVAR: Oh, I think it would be one of the Next Gen ships, maybe the one that we didn’t crash.
MICA: You crashed all the ships. That’s one thing about Star Trek, as well, is that every crew just decimates these ships. I feel like they don’t just grow on trees.
LEVAR: It’s a good action sequence.
MICA: Well, man, you know what? I hope one day I get to crash my own ship.
LEVAR: Well, I hope you do too. I hope you get that opportunity.
MICA: Thank you.
Put that on the wishlist for the next Next Generation series.
LEVAR: Your sister is already known as Crash La Forge.
MICA: I want to be Crash 2: Electric Boogaloo. That’s what I want my nickname to be.
Oh, gosh. For my last question, Mica, what was maybe the most pinch-yourself, you-can’t-believe-this-is-happening moment for you with this journey? Was it the sets? Was it getting into a uniform? What was the experience that you’re like, “I can’t believe this is happening right now”?
MICA: Gosh, honestly, I can’t spoil it, but there’s this moment where a good majority of all of us are together at once. And I think looking around the room… Oh my gosh, I’m getting choked up. It was almost like a death, a life flashing before your eyes, but I looked around at all of my family who have been there, and I saw Brent and me when I was a kid, and he was doing magic tricks to entertain me at–
LEVAR: Easter brunch.
MICA: [At] Easter brunch. And I saw Patrick calling me, it was the middle of the night in London, but it was the night before my theater school audition, and he called me to encourage me. I saw my parents make fun of me all the time, me flirting with Michael Dorn when I was a baby because I had a crush on him. And I just looked around the room, and I was like, “I can’t believe I’m here.” And it was just magical. Genuinely. I think that was the moment.
The first six episodes of the third and final Picard are streaming now on Paramount+.
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