'Hamilton''s Leslie Odom Talks About "Failing Up"

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It was a turning point for Leslie Odom Jr., the Tony Award-winning actor who played Aaron Burr in the original Broadway production of “Hamilton!”

It was 2011 and though he was getting parts here and there in TV, film and on stage, Odom felt his career had stalled. He was depressed, thought about giving up acting and was immobile as he hung out on his couch just waiting for the phone to ring with an offer for a rewarding role.x


Then came advice from a mentor-teacher that would change his life.

“What did you do on your own behalf today?” his friend asked. “Did you do anything other than wait?”

That was just the jump-start he needed which started him on a path self-empowerment and eventually, to “Hamilton.”

Odom has taken those words of wisdom he received — as well as other lessons in life and career he learned along the way — and put them in a small-but-significant book — perfect for holiday gift-giving — called “Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher and Never Stop Learning.”

But not to worry. Odom, 37, hasn’t given up acting and singing to become a motivational speaker — though he would be quite mesmerizing if he did, recalling his show-stopping number as Aaron Burr from “Hamilton,” “The Room Where It Happens.”

Since leaving “Hamilton” in 2016 after its first year in Broadway, his singing career is flourishing with two albums — including a holiday recording — and concerts. He will be performing with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on Dec. 8 at The Bushnell in Hartford, just a few days before the national tour of “Hamilton” lands there for a three-week run.

In the concert he’ll sing songs from his records, from the TV series “Smash,” where he played Sam Strickland, from “Rent” which he performed on Broadway when he was 17 — and still in high school — and, of course, his show-stoppers from “Hamilton.”XXXXXX