Leslie Odom Jr. enters the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday night (Apr. 25) as a double nominee for his work in One Night in Miami…, earning nods for best supporting actor as well as best original song. The latter was showcased in spectacular fashion during the Oscars pre-show, as the multi-hyphenate delivered the film’s post-credits anthem, “Speak Now.”
Performing from the rooftop of the Academy Museum in Los Angeles and wearing a sophisticated cream-colored suit, Odom crooned “Speak Now” as wisps of smoke billowed from the stage and the track heightened in intensity. Although Odom was alone on the circular platform, the performance wowed on the strength of his voice, which reached toward the heavens without ever sounding off-kilter or ostentatious.
Co-starring Odom as music legend Sam Cooke, One Night in Miami… is a fictionalized account of a February 1964 meet-up between Cooke, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown. The film, directed by Regina King, scored three Oscar nods: best supporting actor for Odom Jr., best adapted screenplay for Kemp Powers, and best original song for “Speak Now.”
Odom, who co-wrote “Speak Now” with Sam Ashworth, is the fourth person in four years to enter an Oscars ceremony nominated for both acting and songwriting trophies, following Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga and Cynthia Erivo. “It used to be that if you were a television star, you were a television star,” Odom recently told Billboard. “If you made music, you only made music. It was a lot harder to just come and say ‘I’m a creative person and I’d like to be creative in these different areas.’”
With a win in either category, the former Hamilton star would have a Grammy, Tony and Oscar on his resumé. “I have gone farther than I ever intended to,” said Odom. “When I was coming out of school, I really just wanted to make a living as an artist. I thought that was just the best thing in the world — if I could pay my bills, put food on my table as an actor or singer in this business. The fact that I’ve been able to do that now for a couple of decades means the world.”