Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. refused to appear in the movie until he got a huge raise

You can put this one in the "win column" for those who believe in equal pay. Leslie Odom Jr. took a stand and was not going to settle for anything other than what was fair.

The Hamilton star, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the most successful musical in modern history, simply sought a similar wage to white actors who had comparable roles in other musicals. As he explained to Dax Shepard on his podcast Armchair Expert, they did not contact his agent at CAA until after the announcement of the shows filming. When the offer finally came, it was disappointing.





"They came to me with an offer, 'Leslie, we're shooting tomorrow,'" Odom said, "and 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."

All Odom was asking for is to be treated fairly. He told Dax, "So I can ask CAA [Creative Artists Agency], 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?" Odom said. "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.'"

For Odom, this was no strong-arm tactic. He just wanted to be treated fairly. And it was no bluff, either.

"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.



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As most of us know, everything worked out eventually and Leslie Odom Jr. played Aaron Burr for the filming. It would be hard to imagine anyone else in the role. When Hamilton debuted, Disney's streams were up an eye-popping 74% from the previous weekend.

"I love my white liberal friends, love white people, but, you know, don't be in the streets talking about Black Lives Matter if my Black life doesn't matter," Odom said. "Like, essentially, don't wait for the f***ing cops to kill me before my Black life matters. If my Black life matters, make sure I can take money home to feed my children."

Odom should not have to fight just to be treated like everyone else, nor should anyone. Yet somehow, still, this is the world we live in. If someone like Leslie Odom Jr. has to fight this hard to be an equal, and he made it very clear that he sought equality as opposed to special treatment, then where does that leave us?

Keep in mind that this happened in the entertainment industry, which tries to remind us of how accepting it is of gender and race in every single awards show it puts on. One has to wonder how genuine some of that really is. If you want to learn how to walk the walk, take a lesson from Leslie Odom Jr. He didn't want less than he deserved, and he didn't want more than he deserved. He wanted what was fair, and for those who believe in equality, Odom just chalked up a win.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.