Broadway Star Leslie Odom Jr. looks back on his early years growing up in Philly as what eventually got him to Broadway.
“I didn’t know that going to Freedom was going to prepare me for Broadway," Odom said. "It was a great place to get some discipline and focus and that was the beginning.”
Odom grew up in Philadelphia before embarking on his career as an actor on Broadway.
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“Philly was a great place to grow up. I am thankful to my parents who really let me go. From the age of 10 I was off and running. I went to the school at Masterman and I was at Freedom Theater and Philadanco,” Odom said.
Odom was introduced to theater when he got involved in an African American Oracle Competition that he eventually won. He then earned a scholarship to the Freedom Theater.
His training at Freedom Theater eventually led to various shows such as Rent before he took on the role of Aaron Burr in Hamilton. The show was nominated for 22 Tony awards and won 11, including Odom’s award for Best Actor in a Musical for the year.
Odom credits his inspiration for acting to the creativity and talent in Philadelphia.
“I was endlessly inspired by the talent in Philadelphia because that was the talent I could touch. There was genius all around me. The way I look and perceive at art comes from being raised as a young black man in Philadelphia. My earliest experience of taking in art at Freedom Theater and Philadanco is how I perceive art. It’s a good lens,” Odom said.
Odom will be a performer and emcee for the July 4th Party in the Parkway event at Wawa’s Welcome America! Festival.
“There is nothing I like more than hosting a good party," he said. "I like making sure people feel taken care of from the entrance to the exit. They have a good time, maybe learn a little something. To connect with people is my favorite thing. It’s why I do this. I’m going to bring a little bit of the party from the Richard Rodgers Theater which is about all connecting and joy to the 4th of July with Wawa.“