Standing up for himself. Leslie Odom Jr. was ready to film Hamilton for Disney+, but he needed equal pay first. The actor, who starred as Aaron Burr in the Broadway production, nearly walked away from filming the special due to a pay gap.
“They came to me with an offer and you know, ‘Leslie, we’re shooting tomorrow,’” Odom, 39, recalled during a recent episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast. “I’m like, ‘Here’s the thing: This is it. This is my area of expertise. This is all I have. This is my life’s work on the stage, too. And so I just can’t sell it away for magic beans. I can’t give it away,'”
The Tony winner then revealed he went to his agent to get answers.
“So I can ask CAA, ‘What does my white counterpart — what does Aaron Tveit make to do Grease Live! on TV? What does he make to do Grease? This is Hamilton live, right?'” he told host Dax Shepard. “So when I found out what he made Dax, I didn’t ask for a penny more. I didn’t ask for one penny more, but I said, ‘You must pay me exactly what that white boy got to do Grease Live!’ That’s the bottom line.”
The singer continued: “The day before we shot that movie I called out. I was not kidding. I was not coming to work the next day to do the movie. You know, I was not kidding. It was a principle for me and sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes they look at you and go, ‘We’re just not paying it,’ and you have to go, ‘That’s OK.’”
Odom added that while it’s incredible to see people protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement, the equality needs to actually be there.
“Don’t be in the streets talking about black lives matter if my black life doesn’t matter,” the Smash alum said. “Essentially, don’t wait for the f–king cops to kill me before my black life matters. If my black life matters, make sure that I can take money home to feed my children.”
The former Parenthood actor, 45, then explained that he told his wife, Kristen Bell, if Frozen 3 happens, she should be ready to ask for more money. “I want you to walk in with what Robert Downey Jr. made for his franchise. I want to walk in with five white makes and what they made on their 3 billion-dollar franchises and you said, ‘I’ll be taking this,'” he shared.
Hamilton is now available to stream on Disney+.
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