Leslie Odom Jr. (/oʊdəm/, born August 6, 1981) is an American actor and singer. He has performed on Broadway and in television and film, as well as in other theatrical productions. He is perhaps best known for his performances as Sam Strickland in the 2013 musical television series Smash, as well as in the role of Aaron Burr in the musical Hamilton, a performance for which he won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
Odom was born in Queens, New York. Later, his family moved to the East Oak Lane section Philadelphia where he grew up. He attended Julia R. Masterman School for middle school and Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts for high school.After graduating, he attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, graduating with honors. After he graduated, he moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2003.
Odom sang as a teenager, and studied musical theatre in college. At the age of 17 he made his Broadway debut as Paul in Rent. In 2000, he appeared in the ensemble of the one-night Broadway concert version of Dreamgirls.
He spent much of his time doing theatre in LA, including in 2010 with Leap of Faith, which moved to Broadway in 2012, with him starring as Isaiah Sturdevant. The show closed shortly afterwards, however he made the move to New York and relocated there.
After starring in Venice Off-Broadway and Witness Uganda at A.R.T. and in workshops, Odom Jr. worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda in the Encores! Off-Center production of Tick, Tick... Boom! playing Michael. Odom also played Nat King Cole in the 2015 one-night Actors Fund of America benefit concert of Bombshell. Upon questioning if Odom would play the role when the show eventually opens on Broadway, it was implied that the part will be cut from the show.
Odom was nominated for a 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for the role of Aaron Burr in the Off-Broadway production of Hamilton at The Public Theater. He continued in the same role at the Richard Rodgers Theatre after the show transferred to Broadway later that year where it continues to run to massive acclaim. He also won a 2016 Grammy Award for the cast album, and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
Odom's final appearance in the role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton occurred on July 9, 2016.
In 2003, Odom began a recurring role as Joseph Kayle on CSI: Miami, appearing on nine episodes between then and 2006, when he left to take a recurring role as Maliko Christo on Vanished, appearing in 10 episodes before the shows' cancellation.
From 2006 to 2007, he held a recurring role as Freddy on Big Day, appearing on nine episodes prior to its cancellation. He later had a supporting role as Julian Noble in the TV movie Poe in 2011.
In 2012, he had a recurring role as Sam Strickland on Smash, before being promoted to a starring role for season two in 2013 before the series was cancelled. His performance was praised, though the show's second season was not.
In late 2013, he was offered the leading role of Lucas Newsome on State of Affairs. He accepted the role, but ended up backing out to take the part of Aaron Burr in the workshops of the musical Hamilton.
From 2013 to 2014 he had a recurring role as Peter Collier on Person of Interest, appearing on a total of eight episodes. He also played Reverend Curtis Scott on 7 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit between 2013 and 2015.
Beginning on May 19, 2016, Odom Jr hosted the Broadway.com web series Aaron Burr, Sir: Backstage at Hamilton with Leslie Odom Jr, with a new episode being uploaded every Thursday for 8 weeks. Odom was also set to play Jimmy Jam in a 2017 miniseries about New Edition, but ended up leaving the project.
He has made guest appearances on several shows including Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, Supernatural and The Good Wife. In 2016, Odom was also featured in a commercial for Nationwide Insurance.
Odom Jr. has appeared in multiple short films, and had a supporting role as Declan Hall in the 2012 war film Red Tails. He will play Dr. Arbuthnot in Kenneth Branagh's upcoming adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.
He released his debut album Leslie Odom Jr. in 2014 on CD and SoundCloud. He promoted the album with several concerts at the Public Theater, and in 2016 he released a version of Selena Gomez's Good For You featuring his Hamilton castmate, Daveed Diggs. Also, in June 2016 he released an updated and improved version of Leslie Odom Jr. on S-Curve Records. The album charted at #1 on Billboard Jazz and #147 on Billboard 200. He promoted the album with a series of concerts throughout the year.
On November 11, 2016, he released a new album, titled Simply Christmas.