Leslie Odom Jr. got his ticket to stardom when he landed a leading role in the smash hit musical "Hamilton."
His smoldering performance as Aaron Burr, the "damn fool" who shot Hamilton, won him Tony and Grammy awards. Now, the 35-year-old actor is among the star-studded cast of "Murder on the Orient Express," filming in London. Oh, and he recently released an eponymous jazz album and a holiday album "Simply Christmas."
Odom says he learned two crucial lessons on his way to the top.
"The two most important things I've learned since getting out of college are directly related to [my success in] 'Hamilton,'" Odom said.
First, "Don't make a secret of what you want," he said.
To get the part in "Hamilton," Odom quit a lucrative TV series, demonstrating his commitment to the musical, even though writer Lin Manuel Miranda had yet to finish it. "Everything about it felt once in a lifetime," he said. "It's an environment you dream about as an artist. You don't make that a secret."
Second, he said, "Be prepared."
That meant working "really hard inside and outside the room to make sure I was always meeting and exceeding expectations" and getting "bad habits" out of the way. "Once you identify that thing you want, the question becomes, is this behavior going to help you get to that place or not? Is being timid going to help? Is being unprepared going to help me walk toward the thing I want?"