Quick Q&A With Leslie Odom, Jr.

The <em>Hamilton</em> star shot Lin-Manuel Miranda eight times a week as Aaron Burr, but he cut his teeth in Indy. We chatted with him ahead of his January 5 show at Hilbert Circle Theatre.
When did you first know you wanted to pursue theater?
Around 14 or 15 years old. Rent had just come out, and it really touched me—it was my Hamilton, you know? It just captured my imagination and gave me a place to belong that was radical, which seemed very sexy to a teenager.

Have you performed in Indianapolis before?
I have. My very first solo show was at The Cabaret in 2013. That was a big deal for me.

You’re relatively new to being famous. Are you well-known enough to be recognized in public at this point?
It depends on where I am. I went to the opening night of Hamilton in Los Angeles, and it just never occurred to me that I would be a focus. I was not expecting people to stop me in the lobby, but a lot of them did.

What’s the strangest thing that has happened since Hamilton’s blockbuster success?
People ask me to sign weird parts of their body. I try to talk them out of it. It’s like, “Can we take a selfie and put it on Instagram instead?”

You and your wife have a new baby girl, Lucille. What aspects of being a father have surprised you?
Watching her take in the world, I see it all with fresh eyes. The other day, I just watched her turn her head back and forth between her Elmo doll and the Elmo on the television for a couple of minutes. Everything is new and wonderful at that age.

Have you played her the Hamilton soundtrack?
To be honest, I haven’t made her suffer through listening to her dad’s music. But I was away in London for a big chunk of my wife’s pregnancy shooting Murder on the Orient Express, and she was a little worried about Lucille not knowing my voice. So she played her my Christmas album and some of the sweeter stuff from Hamilton, like “Dear Theodosia.”

Which was more nerve-racking—performing at the Tony Awards last year or singing for the Obamas at the White House in 2016?
The White House. The fact that we made it through that without throwing up or embarrassing ourselves means we can do anything.