Known for his role as Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he also portrayed Kunta Kinte in various iterations of Roots.
He joined a seminary to become a priest when he was 13 years old, but later had doubts about his religion.
He hosted the PBS children's program Reading Rainbow.
He married Stephanie Cozart in 1992, and the couple welcomed a daughter in 1994.
He starred on the hit TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation with Patrick Stewart.