Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Reveals What It Means To Return to Broadway After ‘Hamilton’

Leslie Odom Jr. wears a coat, vest, sweatshirt, pants, and boots by Givenchy.

The wall in Leslie Odom Jr.’s Los Angeles kitchen is populated with countless faces, portraits picked up from his travels around the world with Nicolette Robinson, his wife of 11 years. He points to one dark-haired woman on a bright yellow background.

“We got this at a little restaurant in...” He can’t remember where. He shuts his eyes tightly, thinking hard. “Ischia!” Nicolette chimes in from the next room. He opens his eyes, a smile the size of the Mediterranean broadening his handsome face. “Thank you,” he says, sincerely.

The last eight years have included many journeys for Odom, beginning with the show-stealing role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton that catapulted him to Broadway, and then to international stardom (earning him both a Tony and a Grammy along the way).

After leaving the cast in 2016, he made his way to film and TV roles, including his portrayal of Sam Cooke in Regina King’s One Night in Miami, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. He wrote an autobiography, Failing Up, about finding success through taking risks, and recorded a number of albums, including 2019’s Mr.

On Sept. 7, he will return to Broadway for a revival of Ossie Davis’s Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch, a project he’s been working toward since leaving Hamilton. “It was a piece of writing that held even more of a challenge than the one I had just done,” he says.

“People were asking me, ‘What do you want to do next?’ The list is really short, because there are not a whole lot of roles written for Black actors that are as complex and dynamic and human as Aaron Burr was.” Purlie Victorious, a play about a preacher returning to his small Georgia town to save a community church in the Jim Crow South, was at the top of that list, but a global pandemic had other ideas.

Six years later, the play will run at the legendary Music Box Theatre, a dream for the self-described “Broadway nerd” (“You think about a Broadway house, that is it,” he says). He’s savoring the moment, especially after the literal darkness Covid brought to the Great White Way.


“In returning, there’s a sense of gratitude,” he says. “It meant reckoning with mourning, asking yourself tough questions. Most people that I know are human fucking beings, and the pandemic made them more vulnerable. We’re not taking anything for granted.”

These are not emotions Odom strictly explores under the house lights. He’s been on a personal odyssey as well. He went to therapy. He and his wife went to couples therapy. He’s been trying sensory deprivation “float labs.” He’s reading voraciously, including Clint Smith’s How the Word Is Passed. Purlie Victorious marks not just the renewal of a play, but of Odom himself.

“I don’t want somebody to sing about me: ‘You’ll never be satisfied,’” he says, referencing a line in Hamilton that encapsulates the destructive ambition of the play’s namesake protagonist. “There are still things that I am doing and want to do. But on some level, I’m very satisfied with how lucky I am,” he says. “We pushed through, and Purlie Victorious has come together in a way that’s better. I just thank Providence for this opportunity."

Creative Direction by Studio&
Produced by Iza El Nems
Makeup by Mical Klip
Hair by Kiyonori Sudo
Fashion Assistance by Tallula Bell Madden and Sheneque Clarke