More Culture:

May 31, 2016

Leslie Odom Jr. almost quit Broadway before starring in 'Hamilton'

Philly native says mentors urged him to 'try' before quitting

Leslie Odom Jr. nearly left show business at age 30. But the Philadelphia native, who plays Aaron Burr in the Broadway hit "Hamilton," said a pair of mentors urged him to "try" before he quit.

Odom elaborated on his decision and the advice he received during a Vogue podcast hosted by Andre Leon Talley.

"I had had a couple of experiences of the up and down – never anything like "Hamilton." There's the lean years. Then there's the times that you book a big show, you book a big pilot and then it doesn't get picked up. The phone's not ringing. I just got tired of – how do you ever grow up? How do you ever raise a family? How do you become an adult if it can just be stripped away like that at every moment?"

Odom met with two mentors – Wren Brown and Stewart Robinson. Odom said Robinson, who is now his father-in-law, gave him "the best advice I've probably ever been given in my whole life."

"He said, 'I hear your frustration, I'm hearing that you want to quit, which is fine. You can quit. I'll help you make that transition if you want. But I'd love to see you try before you quit.' I said, 'what do you mean?' He said, 'I think you have great auditions. I think when your phone rings, you show up and do a great job. But what are you doing? What did you do today? Do people know that you're out of work? What are you working on in your free time?' That kind of personal responsibility hadn't occurred to me."

Odom also discussed his childhood struggles with authority, "Hamilton's expensive ticket prices and the other "Hamilton" roles he'd like to try.

You can listen to the podcast here.