Actor Leslie Odom Jr. named 2023 Commencement speaker

Martha Sanchez, News Editor

“Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. is Tulane University’s 2023 commencement speaker. (“File:Leslie Odom Jr. Philanthropy Summit 2016 02.30.jpg” by Warren Elgort is licensed under CC BY 3.0.)

Leslie Odom Jr., a Tony and Grammy Award winning actor who starred in the hit musical “Hamilton” and whose career spans music, television, film and writing, is Tulane University’s 2023 commencement speaker, the school announced Wednesday. 

Odom Jr. won the Tony and Grammy for his performance in the wildly popular Broadway play “Hamilton,” where he starred as Aaron Burr. He has also worked on the film adaptation of “One Night in Miami…” where he wrote, composed and performed the film’s original song, “Speak Now.” That earned him an Oscar nomination and Critics Choice Award. 

Odom Jr. also appeared in the 2022 movie “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and starred in “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark.” Soon, he will act in the “Exorcist” trilogy. 

Odom Jr. was nominated for an Emmy for his work voice acting on the show “Central Park.” He starred in the comedy “Abbott Elementary” and wrote a book called “Failing Up: How To Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.” 

He has performed at the White House, the Super Bowl and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. 

In a news release, President Mike Fitts called Odom Jr.’s career “remarkable” and said it “reflects the inspiration found in crossing genres and boundaries.”

I look forward to hearing Leslie Odom Jr. inspire our graduates with the insight and wisdom he has gained through both failure and success as we celebrate our graduates,” Fitts said in an email to students. 

Past graduation speakers have included “Hangover” star Ken Jeong, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and comedian Maya Rudolph. Tulane graduations are known for New Orleans twists. Jazz performances, second lines and Mardi Gras beads are all classic elements of the ceremonies. 

Odom Jr. will address Tulane’s graduating class on May 20 at 6:30 p.m. in Yulman Stadium. 

“Trust me,” Fitts wrote. “You’ll want to be in the room where it happens.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the nature of Leslie Odom Jr.’s Emmy nomination. He was an Emmy award nominee, not winner, for his work on the show “Central Park.”  

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