Broadway “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. joined the University of Georgia’s University Union in a virtual Q&A on Feb. 15, during which he discussed his career in entertainment as well as performed a few songs live for the audience.
Odom is most widely recognized for his role in the original cast of the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” in which he played narrator Aaron Burr.
Over the course of the hour long webinar, Odom reflected not only on his Broadway career, but also on his recent role in the film “One Night in Miami,” his beginnings in the performing arts and his advice for aspiring young artists.
Odom discussed the legacy of “Hamilton” and how the musical has changed the way that historical retellings are told and diversely represented.
“Not only did it impact Broadway –– look at a show like ‘Bridgerton,’” Odom said. “Look at a show like ‘Dickinson.’ I believe those are the children of ‘Hamilton’...We don’t have to be slave-ish about these retellings of history. We can cast them however we want.”
Odom also offered guidance to young Black artists looking to enter the theater and entertainment industry, urging them to be persistent in their studies.
“There are going to be good days and bad days — lean times and wonderful times,” Odom said. “Continue to study because your preparedness and excellence are really the only things that help you break through those barriers and jump those hurdles at the end of the day.”
Odom discussed his opinion on Aaron Burr and his belief that the historical figure is not, in fact, a villain. University Union had also asked the question on an Instagram poll, and 61% of respondents agreed with Odom that Burr was not a villain, according to the webinar moderators.
Odom has recently come under criticism following his involvement in the movie, “Music,” directed by musical artist Sia. This film has recently received backlash from the autism community in regards to controversial casting choices, according to a 2021 USA Today article. He touched on this controversy briefly during the event.
“If you make a movie that people hate or find it offensive…[people] want to brand you as a villain,” Odom said. “That is who you are for now and forever. It is a really interesting thing because at the same time that we are a part of a time in history where we’re finally holding people accountable for their actions, you know...we can band together and make you feel our displeasure.”
Odom closed the event by surprising the audience with three live performances. He performed “Wait For It” and “The Room Where It Happens” from “Hamilton,” as well as an original song entitled “Go Crazy” from his 2019 album, “Mr.”
Odom left the UGA audience pleased by ending the chat with a supportive “Go dawgs!”