Leslie Odom Jr. was born August 6, 1981 and is an American actor and singer.
Odom was born in Queens, New York City. His family later moved to the East Oak Lane section of 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. He and his family attended Canaan Baptist Church in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, where he sang solos in the church choir.
He earned a degree with honors at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2003.
Odom attended Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he studied theater and performed in musicals. He then went on to study musical theater in college. At the age of 17 he made his Broadway debut as Paul in Rent. In 2001, he appeared in the ensemble of the one-night Broadway concert version of Dreamgirls.
He spent much of his time doing theatre in Los Angeles, including in 2010 with Leap of Faith, which moved to Broadway in 2012, with him starring as Isaiah Sturdevant. When the show closed shortly afterward, he relocated to New York City.
After starring Off-Broadway in Venice and in Witness Uganda (later retitled Invisible Thread) at A.R.T. and in workshops, Odom 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.
Odom had a recurring role on CSI: Miami, appearing as Joseph Kayle in nine episodes between 2003 and 2006. He followed with a recurring role on Vanished, appearing in 10 episodes as Maliko Christo. From 2006 to 2007, he held a recurring role as Freddy on Big Day, appearing on nine episodes prior to its cancellation. He also had a supporting role in the TV movie Poe in 2011. In the musical television series Smash, Odom had a recurring role as Sam Strickland in 2012, and was promoted to a starring role for the show’s final season in 2013. In late 2013, Odom 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.
In 2013 and 2014, he had a recurring role on Person of Interest as Peter Collier, appearing in eight episodes. He also played Reverend Curtis Scott in seven episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit between 2013 and 2015. Beginning on May 19, 2016, Odom 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 eight 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. On February 4, 2018, Odom sang “America the Beautiful” during the NBC broadcast of Super Bowl LII.
Odom has appeared in short films, and had a supporting role as Walter Hall in the 2012 war film Red Tails. He played Dr. Arbuthnot in Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. He also starred as abolitionist William Still in the 2019 film Harriet, about abolitionist Harriet Tubman. In 2019, Odom starred in Only, a post-apocalyptic romance. In 2021, Odom starred as Ebo in musical film Music.
In 2020, Odom was cast as soul singer Sam Cooke in the Regina King–directed film adaptation of One Night in Miami…, which was released in theaters and Amazon Prime in January 2021.
In 2014, Odom self-released his debut album as a jazz singer, Leslie Odom Jr. on CD and SoundCloud, and promoted the album with several concerts at The Public Theater. In February 2016, he released a version of Selena Gomez’s “Good For You” featuring his Hamilton castmate Daveed Diggs.
Odom was signed to a four-album deal with S-Curve Records in 2016. He and producer Steve Greenberg narrowed down 200 potential tunes to ten tracks, and Odom recorded an updated and improved version of Leslie Odom Jr. during days off and afternoons before Broadway performances, in order to release the album before Odom left Hamilton.
On November 11, 2016, Odom released his second album, Simply Christmas, which featured jazz interpretations of Christmas standards. A deluxe edition of the album was released in October 2017, with four additional songs.
Odom tours to promote his albums, performing concerts backed by a jazz quintet that includes a drummer, percussionist, bassist, guitarist and a pianist who is also Odom’s musical director.
In September 2019, Odom released the song “Under Pressure” from his upcoming album Mr.