Here's why 'Hamilton' star Leslie Odom isn't getting offered new roles.
Aaron Burr, himself, has hope for the future of theater.
Unless you've been living under an actual, literal rock this past year, you've probably heard of the hit Broadway show "Hamilton."
The show, centered on the life of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, won both a Grammy and a Pulitzer and racked up a record 16 Tony nominations. In short, it's a pretty big deal and the hottest ticket on all of Broadway.
Aside from being just absolutely fantastic, the show's gotten some major attention and praise for the majorly diverse cast.
Yes, the show is set in the 18th century. No, that wasn't a barrier. In fact, it was a refreshing reimagining of the life and times of the founding fathers.
Leslie Odom, Jr., who plays Aaron Burr in the production, recently talked about diversity during a Hollywood Reporter roundtable discussion.
One of the first things brought up was the idea that because of the success of shows like "Hamilton," some of the racial barriers to Broadway have been torn down. Odom, however, isn't so sure.
And he's got a great point. In 2014-2015, about 80% of roles on Broadway went to white actors, making them disproportionately overrepresented when compared to the general population.
Why doesn't "Hamilton" change everything? Because outside of it, there just aren't a whole lot of roles for people of color on Broadway.
Odom has had just about as wonderful a season as is humanly possible, and yet people aren't exactly knocking his door down to lock him into his next role. Were he a white actor, he explains, he could come to expect a few offers per week.
Sadly, there just aren't many roles written for people of color, making it not so much an issue of racial bias in casting, but one of overall underrepresentation across the board.
Odom isn't giving up hope, however. He believes "Hamilton" will inspire a more diverse slate of writers to put together a more varied set of roles in years to come.
Maybe somewhere there's a kid jotting down the first notes of what will one day become the next "Hamilton," and there's no telling what the story will be. If anything, "Hamilton," a musical written by and starring a man of Puerto Rican descent surrounded by an anachronistically diverse cast, proves that these sorts of reimaginings are not just possible, but also profitable.
As mentioned during the roundtable, people have a tendency to write what they know.
When it's not just actors, but the writers, directors, and producers of shows who share a relatively homogenous upbringing, that only serves to reinforce the status quo.
Hopefully, "Hamilton" will open up the eyes of decision makers, influencing them to take a chance on more diverse ideas and artists.
That's how you guarantee a healthy, diverse future. That's how you change the status quo. That's how you find "Hamilton"-like success both inside and out of the theater.