Carnegie Mellon University

Commencement Weekend

May 18-19, 2019

Leslie Odom, Jr. (A 2003)

Tony and Grammy Award-Winning Performer

Keynote Speaker and Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts 


Leslie Odom, Jr. is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer and dancer.

Best known for his breakout role as Aaron Burr in the smash hit Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” Odom received a Drama Desk Award nomination in 2015 and won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He also won a Grammy Award as a principal soloist on the original cast recording.

Odom made his Broadway debut in “Rent” and starred in the stage adaption of “Leap of Faith.” Off-Broadway he appeared in “Venice” at the Public Theater. On television, Odom will star in and executive produce a new ABC pilot with Simpson Street and Kerry Washington about joint pastors at a young, hip, diverse church in L.A. He most recently appeared on the big screen in Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” for Twentieth Century Fox and recently completed production on four feature films.

Odom returned to the New York City stage in a solo concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2017. The cabaret-style performance was crafted around signature songs and music that shaped the artist's journey and was performed with a world-class band in front of a live audience. The show was filmed for broadcast as an hour-long PBS special as part of the 17-time Emmy Award-winning series, “Live from Lincoln Center.”

Odom’s self-titled debut album was released in 2014 by Borderlight Entertainment. The album’s re-release in 2016 with additional material charted at #1 on the Billboard Jazz chart.

Odom is the author of Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning, a book that taps into the universal themes of starting something new, following your passions, discovering your own potential, and surrounding yourself with the right people.