Quotes by Leslie Odom, Jr.
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Wikipedia Summary for Leslie Odom, Jr.
Leslie Odom Jr. (born August 6, 1981) is an American actor, singer and songwriter. He made his acting debut on Broadway in 1998 and first gained recognition for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton, which earned him a 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album in the same year.
Odom is also known for his roles in the television series Smash (2012–2013) and Person of Interest (2013–2014), as well as the films Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Harriet (2019), and Hamilton (2020). Odom currently voices the character of Owen Tillerman in the Apple TV+ animated musical-comedy series Central Park, for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2020.
For his performance as singer Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami... (2020), Odom earned Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics' Choice Movie Award, and Golden Globe Awards nominations for Best Supporting Actor. He was also nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for writing the film’s original song "Speak Now," for which he won Best Song at the 2021 Critics' Choice Awards. Later that year, he received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role in a Limited Series or Movie for his performance in the 2020 Disney+ live stage recording of Hamilton. Also in 2021, he received critical praise for his role as Harold McBrayer in the The Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark.
He has released four albums and a book.
I kind of think we sort of subconsciously draw things into our lives, whatever we're trying to work through.
I can only imagine what the show would have meant to me as a 16- or 17-year-old. I know what 'Rent' meant to me in my life, how that show changed the course of my life, and we can only hope that 'Hamilton' will have the same effect on a few kids.
There are certainly people who have committed horrific, evil acts in the history of humanity. I don't think Aaron Burr's one of them.
We're reminded yet again: we are stronger, we are smarter, we have more fun when we include each other -- when we include as many perspectives as possible.
I haven't had a chance to decorate my dressing room yet, but I have these pictures of myself as a kid that I want to put up because I said, 'I really want to make sure that I take that kid with me on this journey.' I want him to experience this.
What is the future going to say about us now? What are our kids going to look at us and say, 'How could you not stop that person from getting into power? How could you not stop that environmental disaster that you saw coming a mile away?'
They're people who had flaws and who had affairs and had sex and had scandals, and very rarely do we look at the totality of our heroes' lives.
I've dedicated more than 15 years to this theater and television thing; I want to spend the next 10, 15 years or so devoted to music.
I remember Ella Fitzgerald sort of coming into my life like a bolt of lightning -- like, what is that? It was one of the purest examples of God in art that I'd ever seen.
It's still a political statement to stand on stage as a person of color and be excellent. We still need those images to combat the narrative we're often fed -- as someone innately inferior or inexorably linked with lack.
I grew up in Philadelphia in a time where we took it for granted that we were supposed to be young and gifted and black. It was a culture of excellence -- and all my friends were more talented than I was.
You gotta love this thing. Whatever you choose to pursue -- medicine, law, writing, you have to love it. You study it, you eat it, you drink it, you try it, you do it, you love it in every way.
People are coming to you at their most vulnerable; they're showing you the parts of themselves that they're afraid to show: the parts that they're not so sure about, not so secure in. And so it's a really holy profession I think, teaching. If you do it right, it can change somebody's life.
The time I spent in New York when I was 17 gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams with my whole heart.
I've been in a long-term relationship, and I'll tell you, it's never boring! People trying to merge their lives together always run into challenges.
Donny Hathaway's 'For All We Know' is the song that I've sung the longest. It is a beautiful song about living in the moment and appreciating this very second. That is the song I did for my 'Rent' audition.
There's this Frank Wildhorn tune 'Sarah' -- it's not a widely known tune, but it's my favorite song to sing.
I think that the best songs to sing are songs that you love, because you sing them with love when you love them.
As an artist, I'm very used to waking up and sort of not knowing what my day's going to be and not knowing where my next paycheck is going to come from.
I remember when I was in 'Rent,' Daphne Rubin-Vega threw a party. At the time, she had a loft in TriBeCa, and the elevator opened right into her apartment. I was like, 'I've never seen anything like that.' I didn't know it was possible.
I started out with this 'La Boheme' fantasy, but as you get older, the 'La Boheme' fantasy becomes less sexy, believe me.
I'm in no way running from 'Hamilton' or its success or these beautiful songs that I've been blessed to be able to be the one to introduce them. I certainly won't be the last to sing them, but to be the first, I feel very lucky.
The record company felt wisely that we should get something out before I left 'Hamilton' or around awards time, and that deadline was not easy.
To get even realer with you for a second, as a black actor, as a performer of color, I don't know how many more roles like Aaron Burr are gonna come along for me.
I've realized along the way that a lot of things that I do as a performer are about waiting for somebody to write something for me or develop something for me, but music, music was the thing that I don't have to wait for anybody's permission to do.
I know what not being able to pay your bills feels like real well... I know that way better than a room full of beautiful people and Tony awards and Grammy awards.
You must be an artist and a citizen of the world. You must speak to this stuff that's happening. You must do what you can to shine a light on it, help people through it.
It's not about doing something that's as big as 'Hamilton.' That may never happen again, and that's okay.
My dad was always in sales. My mom had a heart for the ages. Worked in recreation, doing rehabilitation in nursing homes. Very nice, practical folks who were very proud of me but had no inclination toward the stage in any way.
'Rent' opened up my heart, my senses. I was never the same. I hadn't been back in that place in the same way since. 'Hamilton' put me back in that place.
It is said an artist spends their whole life trying to get to the place where their heart was first opened up. 'Rent' was that place for me.
I had no vision of me being a part of that show ever. But I was committed to being the first super-fan of 'The Hamilton Mixtape' that there ever was. I was in love with this thing.
If I'm allowed it, I'm really looking forward to a little time on the couch and a little time on a beach in Brazil.
When we go and cheer Cynthia Erivo on in 'The Color Purple,' it's because we've elected her to be our voice. She sings 'I'm Here' for all of us.
When I step on the stage and sing 'Wait for It,' I'm singing that for everybody. I don't mean I'm singing it for them; I mean, you are their voice.
I've spent a long time learning my way around a stage as an actor, but this I don't know as well. Humbly, I'm excited to get with a band and perform regularly as an artist and see what I can learn and how I can grow in that space.
I know it's hard for people to imagine a time when 'Hamilton' wasn't 'Hamilton,' but for years, it was just this little thing that I was telling people about that didn't make any sense to anybody as I was describing it. But I loved it.
We want to pull out songs from the American song book, and we want to make them palatable for a modern audience.
You hear a song like 'Wait For It,' you hear a song like 'Dear Theodosia' -- if you get one of those songs in a musical -- one -- it's worth dropping everything to sing that one song.
I think for a lot of us, you know, what 'Hamilton' gave us the opportunity to, what it gave me the opportunity to do, was to go, 'Here's what I've learned in 35 years.'
Oh, Alexander Hamilton fell short of his best self every now and again, and he still managed to do these wonderful things -- well, so do I. So what am I capable of?
I've done a lot of translation in TV, and I can do it. I'm trained to do it. I know how to inject a certain amount of my naturalness into that and where I come from into those things, but it helps if somebody's writing with my experience in mind.
You go see a great production of 'Romeo and Juliet,' where those kids are full of life and love, you hope and forget.
I've been involved with 'Hamilton' for about two and a half years. I've learned so much. I came into it a young man. Now I've dropped the 'young.'
I feel like every night, when you see a really good production of 'Romeo and Juliet' or something, you should hope that it ends differently. That's why we watch our favorite movies again and again.
None of us get to divorce ourselves from the world. We walk into the theater and bring all of our grief and our pain and our joy with us.
What goes up must come down; I'm not going to be in 'Hamilton' forever. Everything I work on won't have this kind of success.
Until you make a name for yourself, they're like, 'Be a little more Denzel,' 'Be a little more Wesley Snipes.'
I don't have any control over the offers that are going to come to me or not come to me. But I can't go backward, and so that's what's tricky.
That was the bat signal for me -- 'Rent' changed my life. It took me years before I got beyond that show.
I know what it's like to be ignored; when I got to L.A., I longed for somebody who looked like me to show me the ropes.
I have a great foundation, a great training foundation. But it took me a long time to let the training go.
I think I spent most of my childhood, and my early years as a performer, in student mode. And I think that's OK -- I mean, it led me to where I am.
At 14, 15 years old, I started reading 'Backstage' regularly. Eventually, I got enough courage to look at the auditions section.
If you're an open channel when you're onstage, if you're just a vessel, things are going to come out that are stored away deep in your DNA.
I got my Equity Card with my Broadway debut when I did 'Rent.' I was in high school, and I came to New York to do that show.
Josh Gad was in my class. Katy Mixon. Griffin Matthews. Josh Groban -- he ended up leaving to become a huge star, but he was in our class in freshman year. I remember Josh was this nerdy kid in a turtleneck with a voice from heaven.
The only reason to keep talking about history is if you are juxtaposing it with the world that we live in today, if you are learning something about our world by looking at the way they shaped their world.
None of us wants to be judged by our worst act on our worst day, and we consistently judge Burr for that. He was not a perfect man, but he's not a villain. He's a dude, just a guy.
I think it was, my parents got me a karaoke machine when I was about 9 years old. Even before that, they got me a tape recorder that I used to walk around my life with. And there was something about recording and then hearing myself back.
I've been fortunate in my life. It hasn't been easy, but there has been a focus on the positive, and it has reverberated. Eventually, the outlook mirrors itself back to you in the friends you have, in the partner that you choose.