Carnegie Mellon University

Image of Leslie Odom Jr.

April 12, 2018

Leslie Odom, Jr. Helps To Spread Good News to 2018 Tony Nominees

By Pam Wigley

Erin Scott
  • School of Drama
  • 412-268-2068
Pam Wigley
  • College of FIne Arts
  • 412-268-1047

Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Leslie Odom, Jr. can check off another box on his accomplishments list. Odom Jr., who took home a 2016 Tony Award for best performance by an actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in "Hamilton," will join CBS star Katharine McPhee to announce the 2018 Tony Award nominees. The Tony Awards announced his role today; the nominations will take place at Lincoln Center Tuesday, May 1, and will, in part, be broadcast on "CBS This Morning."

Since his graduation in 2003, Odom Jr. worked hard to make it in the entertainment industry. Although he made his Broadway debut at the age of 17 in "Rent," prior to his CMU graduation, and went on to take roles in numerous television series (including "SMASH," with McPhee and fellow CMU alumni Christian Borle and Megan Hilty), he couldn't find the kind of star-making turns he was searching for. Then came "Hamilton." His performance as Burr in 2015 earned him a Drama Desk Award nomination for "Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical" and his career has blossomed ever since.

He was a featured performer at this year's Super Bowl, he starred in "Murder on the Orient Express" with fellow CMU alumnus Josh Gad, he is the spokesman for Nationwide Insurance and, on the personal side, he married actress and singer Nicolette Robinson and is now dad to a 1-year-old daughter. He's currently working on a feature film with actress Kate Hudson.

He describes his struggles and subsequent successes in his new book, "Failing Up," which he wrote because he wanted others to see that the journey to success may not be easy, but it can happen through hard work, faith and the support of friends and family. 

"I started from nothing," Odom recently told "It was a really tough road to get to this very fortunate position that I find myself in now. I think there's something that's important in holding your private struggles and your battles, holding that up against the triumphs; it makes the triumphs sweeter."

The American Theatre Wing honors Broadway's best individuals and productions. Carnegie Mellon alumni have won 44 Tony Awards. CMU's School of Drama consistently ranks as one of the world's best drama schools and is recognized as an international leader in arts and technology. Year after year, the School of Drama produces graduates who go on to do award-winning work, both on stage and behind the scenes.

CMU also is the exclusive higher education partner of the Tony Awards. As part of the collaboration, the two organizations launched the Tony Honor for Excellence in Theatre Education, the first national recognition program to honor kindergarten through high-school (K-12) theatre educators.

The 2018 Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, will air live on CBS on Sunday, June 10. For more information on the Tony Awards, visit and and follow @TheTonyAwards on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.