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Pop Culture Happy Hour: Talking 'Hamilton' And 'Failing Up' With Leslie Odom Jr.

Actor Leslie Odom Jr. attends the 2018 Tony Awards Nominations Announcement on May 1, 2018. in New York City.
Jenny Anderson
/
Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions
Actor Leslie Odom Jr. attends the 2018 Tony Awards Nominations Announcement on May 1, 2018. in New York City.

When I first sat down to talk to Leslie Odom, Jr., I told him that our team had seen him in Hamilton, and then I told him that I suspected that's how many of his conversations started these days. He said that now, it's all about how early people say they saw it. They saw it at the beginning of the run! Before it was a hit! Back when it was at the Public!

Fame is funny. Success is funny. And on Broadway, you often wind up leaving right at the height of your triumph, as the original cast of Hamilton did as 2016 progressed. Odom told me about making the decision to leave, but since then, he's done all kinds of things: he did Murder on the Orient Express, he did a jazz residency, he became a spokesperson ("singsperson"?) for Nationwide, and now he's written a book. Called Failing Up, it tells his own story of success in fits and starts, of forgoing some opportunities to pursue others, and of how to find the mentors who tell you the things you need to hear.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.