Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr. Responds To Backlash Over Disney+ Movie

Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr

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There are hit Broadway shows, and then there's Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip hop tale of American history became pop culture sensation when it opened back in 2015, and swept the Tony Awards before winning a Grammy and Pulitzer Prize. Now Disney+ subscribers can be in the room where it happened thanks to the filmed stage version of Hamilton that's currently streaming. This new audience has resulted in some backlash on the show's contents, and now Aaron Burr (sir) Leslie Odom Jr. has addressed said feedback.

Hamilton's release on Disney+ inspired a huge spike in downloads for the application, and no doubt tons of views of the new movie. But this type of exposure has also opened the door for some criticism. Leslie Odom Jr. recounted one said encounter he had while appearing on Hamilton: History As Its Eye On You. The Tony Award winning actor was approached by one individual who took umbrage with Hamilton using people of color to tell the story of white men, claiming it actually wasn't a step forward for black and brown people. Odom's response addressed feedback on the show, saying:

Here’s what I know. Lin wrote the story that was on his heart to write. I signed on to be a part of the show that I believed in. That was our leg of the race. Now it’s your turn. There’s no doubt in my mind that some young kid is going to look at Hamilton and write the show that makes what we did look quaint. That might be happening at this very moment. A show’s going to come along that makes this look cute at some point.

Rather than taking offense, it looks like Leslie Odom Jr. has found a silver lining in Hamilton backlash that has arrived on the internet since it debuted on Disney+. He hopes the future musical theaters writers put together a show that's even more complicated and revolutionary than Hamilton. And in that way, they can have their own control over what's happening on stage.

Hamilton is currently streaming exclusively on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the new service, and see the show for yourself.

There have been a few points of criticism for Hamilton, some of which have been addressed by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. Another point of contention is the depiction of slavery (or lack thereof) regarding Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and even Alexander Hamilton. The conversation around Hamilton is showing no signs of slowing down, but Leslie Odom Jr. also expressed how revolutionary Hamilton was when it opened, and continues to be. As he explained on Hamilton: History Has Its Eye On You,

But [Hamilton] was meaningful, there was protest in its time. The fact that it’s been so successful and it’s so ubiquitous, things are taken for granted about this show. The fact that it is the language of the streets; the fact that it is people that have historically been disenfranchised and shut out of a story taking ownership of it and retelling the story in their own words. There’s protest in that. So there was power in it. All I said to the young woman was, ‘I can’t wait to see the show that you write.’ This is the beginning of a conversation, and I can’t wait to see the show that it inspires.

What a class act. It seems that the cast and crew of Hamilton are open to hear criticism on the show, and admit that not everything could fit in the show's already extremely dense 160-minute runtime. But there's also so much that Hamilton did right before debuting on Disney+, and continues to have an effect on conversation regarding the arts.

Hamilton is currently streaming in its entirety on Disney+. Be sure to check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.