Broadway star speaks at performing arts school for ‘MLK Day of Service’

Broadway performer gives back at SPARC

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - When it comes to performing on stage, students at the School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) are taught to shoot for the moon.

However, it’s not every day that those same students are able to get real feedback from a star.

Today, Grammy-nominated performer Leslie Odom Jr., known for his work on the Tony Award-winning stage play Hamilton, traded the Broadway stage for a smaller one, ripe with talent in Richmond.

“Everybody has something to offer, every single person,” said Odom Jr.

It was an effort months in the making when Anthony Bryant, owner of local children’s fashion store, Little Nomad’s, had a chance encounter with Odom Jr.

“He happened to stumble in the the store and he really enjoyed what he saw,” said Bryant.

Bryant said he and Odom Jr. quickly became friends.

It wasn’t long before the two decided to give back to Richmond’s art community.

Bryant, whose daughter takes classes at SPARC, convinced him to speak to students at SPARC to generate money for the art program’s Financial Aid Scholarship Fund.

“We figured that being on MLK day, a day that we find very important that it would be a win-win for everybody,” said Bryant.

Odom Jr. spoke about his journey to success and how the generations under him can do the same. He also provided insights on his musical process, acting tips and addressed combating adversity on and off the stage,

“The second you stop comparing yourself to the person next to you, the boy or the girl next to you, and you focus on maximizing your potential what you have to offer, that’s when you get the good stuff,” Odom Jr. said.

Though it wasn’t a performance, students said Odom Jr. taught them in a way that can’t be done by watching a play.

“That was really cool for him to be able be on the same level as us and to want to connect to us in a way that almost deeper than listening to his soundtrack in our car,” said SPARC student Grace Phipps.

The students ended the visit singing the famous hymnal ‘We Shall Overcome.'

The proceeds generated through ticket sales of the Odom Jr. visit will go to SPARC’s financial aid scholarship program.

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