In a new interview with New York Times Magazine, the beloved actor-director-educator — who is set to serve as one of the game show’s final crop of guest hosts in late July — admits it’s “difficult to explain” why he has so passionately campaigned for the gig, musing, “There’s something inside me that says this makes sense. I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do.
“Jeopardy! is a cultural touchstone,” he adds, “and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant.”
A groundswell of support from fans helped Burton score one of the exclusive guest-hosting slots. But will it give him an edge when the decision on a full-time host is made later this summer?
“Our goal has been to present a wide variety of guest hosts with different skill sets and backgrounds on our path to finding a permanent host,” EP Mike Richards, who served as an interim host himself, recently said. “Our passionate fans are telling us what they like, and we are listening. All of the guest hosts have brought individualism, energy and an authentic love of our show to each of their episodes.”
Should he ultimately get passed over for the job, Burton admits to New York Times Magazine, “It will hurt. I’m not going to lie. But if that happens, I will get over it. I will be fine. Remember: Everything happens perfectly and for a reason. That is my default. It’s all going to be OK. Because it always is.”