Leslie Odom, Jr. Almost Turned Down ‘Hamilton’ Role Over Pay Disagreement: If My Black Life Matters, Make Sure I Can Take Money Home To Feed My Children
Millions of fans and a Tony Award later, “Hamilton” actor Leslie Odom, Jr. revealed that he almost turned down his role in the musical! In fact, he told Dax Shepherd on the “Armchair Expert Podcast” that he nearly bailed the day before shooting started over a salary disagreement. Leslie Odom, Jr. said:
“They came to me with an offer, ‘Leslie, we’re shooting tomorrow,’ and I’m like, ‘Here’s the thing: this is it. This is my area of expertise. This is all I have. This is my life’s work on the stage too. And so I just can’t sell it away for magic beans. I can’t give it away.'”
Leslie Odom, Jr.’s only demand was that he be paid the same amount of money as his white counterparts. He added:
“So I can ask CAA [Creative Artists Agency], ‘What does my white counterpart- what does Aaron Tveit make to do ‘Grease Live!’ on TV? What does he make to do ‘Grease’? This is ‘Hamilton’ live, right?’ So when I found out what he made, Dax, I didn’t ask for a penny more. I didn’t ask for one penny more, but I said, ‘You must pay me exactly what that white boy got to do ‘Grease Live!’ That’s the bottom line.’”
Leslie, who played Aaron Burr in the production continued,
“The day before we shot that movie I called out. I was not kidding. I was not coming to work the next day to do the movie. You know, I was not kidding. It was a principle for me and sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes they look at you and go, ‘We’re just not paying it,’ and you have to go, ‘That’s OK.’ I love my white liberal friends, love white people, but, you know, don’t be in the streets talking about Black Lives Matter if my Black life doesn’t matter. Like, essentially, don’t wait for the f*cking cops to kill me before my Black life matters. If my Black life matters, make sure I can take money home to feed my children.”
What are your thoughts on Leslie Odom, Jr.’s stance? Let us know in the comments!