Fans of the multitalented Leslie Odom Jr. did not have to look far when the actor left the megasuccessful Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton in 2016.
He released a 2016 holiday album called Simply Christmas, appeared in the 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express and has continued his partnership with Nationwide Insurance, in whose commercials his smooth vocals have been heard for the past year.
“That off-the-cuff nature … I think people responded to. It really came out of a natural, easy partnership,” Odom says about the commercials in which he performs with a band as part of the Leslie Odom Jr. Experience. “A really organic thing kind of happened in front of the camera, and people took to it.”
He appears once again with his band in the insurance company’s latest ad singing “Songs for All Your Sides” which ran during the first round of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
“Songs for All Your Sides” may be the only new music from the Tony and Grammy Award winner, who released his self-titled debut album in 2014, for the foreseeable future.
“Music is on the back burner for the moment,” he says. “I’m just not recording anything new … but we’re constantly on the road performing all the time.”
During his time on the road, the 36-year old added author to his impressive résumé. His first book, Failing Up: How to Rise Above, Do Better, and Never Stop Learning, releases March 27.
“I’m in one of those very fortunate times in my career where [I] have the option to do a whole lot of different things,” says the entertainer.
According to his publisher, Feiwel & Friends, the book is to offer readers advice on how to follow their dreams:
With personal stories from his life, Odom asks the questions that will help you unlock your true potential and achieve your goals even when they seem impossible. What work did you put in today that will help you improve tomorrow? How do you surround yourself with people who will care about your dreams as much as you do? How do you know when to play it safe and when to risk it all for something bigger and better?
For Odom, the book was a labor of love. He wrote it as he toured with his band, and he admits it took some time.
“I really had to carve out the time on the road. On the way to the airport in cars, on the way to hotels, in hotel rooms, hotel lobbies, dressing rooms,” he details. “The process of writing it was unlike anything I’ve ever done before.”
Despite the long process of getting his book out, he’s incredibly proud of it and wants young readers to walk away from reading it with having learned something.
“I want people to like it. I hope that [they] find it helpful and useful,” the new author says. “If I meet somebody along the way and they say it’s helped them in some way, then it’ll all be worth it.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.