Leslie Lloyd Odom, Jr., born August 6, 1981, is best known for his breakthrough performance as Aaron Burr on Broadway’s “Hamilton.” Playing the anti-hero isn’t for everyone, but with Odom around, you might be inclined to side with the “villain.” Odom played the bad guy to perfection. He did such a stellar job that he won a Tony. Odom also received critical acclaim for portraying Sam Cooke in “One Night In Miami.” Whatever Odom touches turns into gold. Not content with winning Broadway, Odom topped the Billboard jazz charts. And you know what’s surprising? The actor has never considered himself gifted, especially as a child. The effort probably began to show after putting in 10,000 hours, he once said. We may never know the secret formula to his success. Whatever that is, it’s ground-breaking stuff!
Leslie Lloyd Odom Jr. was born in Queens, New York but raised in Philadelphia. Being a performer was always his calling. Odom took to music and dance as naturally as breathing. His exceptional talents landed him a Broadway debut as a replacement on “Rent.” He was just 17 then. To take his passion for musical theater further, Odom studied drama at Carnegie Mellon University in 2003. He relocated to Los Angeles after completing his degree. It wasn’t long before the acting offers began rolling in. His star quality was undeniable.
Odom bagged recurring roles on hit shows like “Gilmore Girls” and “C.S.I.” and numerous other guest spots on shows. In 2012, he was part of the short-lived “Leap Of Faith” musical on Broadway that failed to make a splash. The musical had no takers, but Odom’s career trajectory would only go up from here. Coincidentally, he landed the role of Sam Strickland on “Smash” that year, a show about Broadway performers and the enormity of competing for parts. Odom also began workshopping for “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, playing the character that would change his life, Aaron Burr. The musical took inspiration from Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton but envisioned a wholly different cast. Part musical, part hip-hop audiobook, the Hamilton cast reflected black and brown beauty unlike previously seen on Broadway. It was a fresh musical perspective of U.S. history. The musical premiered on January 20, 2015, and shifted the landscape of musical theater entirely. Since then, Leslie Odom Jr. remains synonymous with his character, Aaron Burr, the musical’s principal antagonist. He won the 2016 Tony Award for the role, beating out Lin Manuel Marinda as Alexander Hamilton. The album “Hamilton: An American Musical” even topped the Billboard Cast Albums and Rap Albums charts, with Odom’s powerful vocals featuring in over half the tracks.
Odom has been married to actress, Nicolette Robinson since 2012. The two love their “littlest humans” — their daughter, Lucille Ruby, and son, Able Phineas. The couple has even written a kids’ book and a song for their children. Odom inadvertently made headlines in 2021 when a journalist allegedly mistook Daniel Kaluuya for Odom. He continues to fight for better representation in the film and music industries. At the same time, Odom has recently raked up a controversy by defending fellow artist Sia for her casting choices in their film “Music.” The film follows the life of an autistic teenager. Critics argued that the role should have gone to an actor on the autism spectrum.
Odom stars opposite Karen Olivio and Lin-Manuel Miranda in a revival of Jonathan Larson’s “Tick, Tick…Boom!”
Odom wins the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical Role for “Hamilton.”
He wins the Grammy as the principal soloist on Hamilton’s original cast recording.
2016 gets even better as his self-titled debut album tops the Billboard Jazz Charts.
He appears on “Murder on the Orient Express” as part of the ensemble cast.
In “One Night In Miami,” Odom portrays the inimitable Sam Cooke, who spends a night in Miami with Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.
Why We Love Leslie Odom Jr.
Representation and advocacy
Odom has often spoken on the importance of diverse casting, especially in Hamilton. He’s a force who makes representation on Broadway a reality.
His pursuit of perfection
Odom is insanely talented. Whatever he does, you can be sure it will be done impeccably, and win major awards.
He’s always leveling up
Despite his success, Leslie Odom Jr. has spoken about how he doesn’t like being called a “professional.” For him, the word signals death, where he stops growing as a person and an artist. That, to him, is terrifying.
5 Surprising Facts
He put education first
Odom turned down a role in the original cast of AIDA to finish his degree at Carnegie Mellon University.
He’s a composer
Odom wrote and composed “Speak Now” for Prime’s “One Night In Miami.”
Odom is also a published author
In 2018, Macmillan published his book “Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.”
On playing Sam Cooke
He admitted in an interview that producers had to chase him since he didn’t see Sam Cooke in him as much as they did.
His other talents
Odom can instantly sing an acapella version of any song he has heard in its original key.
Leslie Odom Jr. FAQs
Is Leslie Odom Jr. related to Lamar Odom?
Leslie Odom Jr. and former N.B.A. star Lamar Odom share the same last name. However, the two are not related directly or indirectly.
What ethnicity is Leslie Odom Jr.?
Leslie Odom Jr has South-African and Barbadian roots. He was born and raised in the U.S.
Who says the most words in Hamilton?
The character Alexander Hamilton played by Lin-Manuel Miranda has about 916 lines in Hamilton. Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr.) is a close second with 655 lines.
Leslie Odom Jr.’s birthday dates