Leslie Odom Jr

Leslie Odom Jr

Nyla Williams

Leslie Odom Jr is an American singer-songwriter and actor. He has been on Broadway also in television, movies, and other live productions. He is mostly known for starring as Sam Strickland in the 2013 musical series Smash and Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton, for which he received a Tony  Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 2016. He holds the title of being the youngest person ever cast in the Broadway classic “Rent.” When Leslie joined the show, he was a 17-year-old high school senior.

The theater is a great way for me to express myself and although I performed in over 10 plays, I didn’t always have the confidence to do so. While growing up I loved acting and singing, and a few years ago my mom and aunt got me enrolled in a pageant and dance lessons to help build my confidence and skills. I didn’t have the confidence to take risks or act in front of a crowd let alone sing. But Leslie Odom Jr takes a lot of risks in the acting world. He thinks that by embracing the danger it makes an actor feel alive. He says “you [should] decide in your mind whether you did A+ work because that’s what life is..”.  This quote inspires me to try not to think about other opinions but instead to focus on my own and feel validated on them alone.  

After reaching success he didn’t stop, he took more risks and started to record a jazz album. In an interview he states “As a black actor, I can just tell you that I saw the potential to turn what is expected of us so often on its head,” he said. “We’re oftentimes asked to stop the show, or to make ‘em laugh, but we’re very rarely asked for vulnerability, very rarely asked for complication.”. The reason I admire him so much is because he makes me feel like black people can be seen as more than just R&B and hip hop artists but also as Broadway stars.