Leslie Odom Jr. is an American singer and actor who performs on the stage and in film and television. He has also released two jazz albums. He is best known for playing Aaron Burr on Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ for which he earned the 2016 Tony Award for the Best Actor along with a Grammy Award for contributing to the play’s soundtrack. An accomplished actor on television as well, Leslie Odom Jr. played a major role in the musical series ‘Smash.’ Born in Queens, New York, he was raised in Philadelphia. Passionate about acting and singing since childhood, he made his Broadway debut at the age of 17. With the aim of becoming an actor, he studied drama at the Carnegie Mellon University and relocated to Los Angeles after his graduation in 2003. Since then, he has been active in the acting and music fields and has achieved much fame as an accomplished actor, recording artist, and dancer. Also an author, Leslie Odom Jr. published a book titled ‘Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.’ The multi-talented personality is married to actress Nicolette Robinson and is a doting father of a beautiful daughter.
Childhood & Early Life
Leslie Odom Jr. was born on August 6, 1981 in Queens, New York City, the USA. He, along with his family, moved to Philadelphia where he was raised. He studied at Julia R. Masterman School and then went on to attend Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
He developed a passion for singing as a young boy and started to sing in the church choir at the Canaan Baptist Church. He eventually attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and earned a degree with honors from there before moving to Los Angeles in 2003.
He began acting while still in college. At the age of 17, Leslie Odom Jr. made his Broadway debut in the play ‘Rent.’ In the year 2000, he appeared in the one-night concert version of ‘Dreamgirls.’
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In 2004, Leslie Odom Jr. appeared as part of the ensemble cast in the play ‘Jersey Boys’. In 2007, he performed in the plays ‘Keep Your Pantheon’ and ‘Being Alive’. Three years later, the actor was cast as Isaiah Sturdevant in ‘Leap of Faith’, a play that moved to the Broadway in 2012.
After starring in the off-Broadway production ‘Venice’ in 2013, he worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda in the production of ‘Tick, Tick... Boom!’ the next year.
In the year 2015, he had his breakthrough stage role as Aaron Burr in the Broadway production of the musical ‘Hamilton.’ His final appearance in the play occurred on July 9, 2016.
Leslie Odom Jr. has appeared in a number of short films till date, including ‘Scarecrow Joe’ and ‘Luna Goes Cruising’. In 2012, he had a supporting role as Declan 'Winky' Hall in the war flick ‘Red Tails’.
In 2017, the actor played Dr. Arbuthnot in the screen adaption of the Agatha Christie novel ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. Currently, he is busy filming for the upcoming science fiction movie ‘Needle in a Timestack.’
Leslie Odom Jr.’s first television role was a recurring one in the series ‘CSI: Miami’ in 2003. He appeared as Joseph Kayle in a few episodes of the series before leaving the show in 2006.
He had a recurring role in the drama ‘Vanished’ (2006) in which he played Maliko Christo. From 2006 to 2007, the actor appeared in the recurring role of Freddy in the sitcom ‘Big Day’. After this, he got featured in an episode of ‘Grey's Anatomy’.
In the year 2011, Odom had guest roles in a number of TV dramas, such as ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’, ‘Zeke and Luther’, and ‘Supernatural’.
He was cast in the lead role of Sam Strickland in the musical drama ‘Smash’ in 2013. That year, he also had a recurring role in ‘Person of Interest’. The American artiste began playing Reverend Curtis Scott in ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ the same year.
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He next got featured in an episode of ‘Gotham’ in 2014. Two years later, he hosted the web series ‘Aaron Burr, Sir: Backstage at Hamilton with Leslie Odom Jr.’
In 2018, he lent his voice to the character of Dr. Leslie in an episode of the animated sitcom ‘We Bare Bears’.
In 2014, Leslie Odom Jr. self-released his debut solo album ‘Leslie Odom Jr.’ on SoundCloud and CD. Two years later, he released a version of Selena Gomez's single "Good for You" featuring Daveed Diggs.
He signed to S-Curve Records and recorded a modified and improved version of his album ‘Leslie Odom Jr.’ that went on to be released in June 2016.
On November 11, 2016, he released his second album titled ‘Simply Christmas.’ It was a jazz album that featured interpretations of Christmas standards. The album’s deluxe edition, with four additional songs, was released in October 2017.
As a singer, Odom often tours to promote his jazz albums, performing with his quintet that includes a percussionist, drummer, guitarist, bassist, and pianist.
In 2018, Odom released a book titled ‘Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning’. Through the book, he aims to inspire youngsters to follow their dreams and motivate them to never give up even when the going gets tough.
Leslie Odom Jr. is currently married to actress Nicolette Kloe Robinson. She is famous for appearing in the Showtime original series ‘The Affair’ as well as in the off-Broadway play, ‘Invisible Thread’.
The couple first met in 2008 in Los Angeles when Robinson was auditioning for a role in the musical ‘Once on This Island’. Odom, who was serving as an assistant director to Billy Porter, fell in love with Robinson while training the actress for her role. Odom and Robinson were married in December 2012. As of now, they have a daughter named Lucille Ruby who was born on April 23, 2017.
Leslie Odom Jr. considers American actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith to be his major inspiration.
His talented freshman class at Carnegie Mellon University included artistes Katy Mixon, Josh Groban, Brennan Hesser, Audra Blaser, Griffin Matthews, Angela Lin, Ben Pelteson and Josh Gad.