Author: Marilyn

Transgender Artist Leslie Odom Jr. is the first trans performer in major shows on Broadway

Transgender Artist Leslie Odom Jr. is the first trans performer in major shows on Broadway

Broadway is becoming the ‘Great Woke Way’ for the transgender community, according to Broadway’s own trans artist-activist, the one-time star of Jersey Boys.

“When I started my show, it was the height of transphobia,” says the 32-year-old singer-songwriter in the Broadway musical. “It’s kind of strange how you have to go from one town to another and become an out trans woman in New York.”

The first-time Broadway performer and activist is a member of the New York Broadway Theater Alliance (NYBTA), part of the Broadway League, which has been advocating for the transgender community since 2014 and has become the biggest show-tipping advocate in the nation.

For the first time in the history of the Broadway industry, there are trans performers in major shows on Broadway. Two were announced in 2018, one in the musical Hamilton this summer and another in the musical The Color Purple, starring Tony Award winner and Broadway favorite Leslie Odom Jr in September.

Related: How Trans People Got Their First Break on TV

“Now, in New York, there’s more visibility and acceptance for me in terms of things I had to deal with before,” says the musician with the new album, “I’d Rather Be on Broadway,” out today, and her first LP in two years, “This is a Rainbow.”

Born in Miami, Fla., and raised in California, she became involved in drag acts, theater and music, singing and performing as a male. In high school, one of her female friends introduced her to a girl she liked, who turned her into a man.

She says she was “convinced that this was normal.”

She describes her transition as “a process of becoming a human being and not a freak.”

“I was in a constant state of anxiety and fear,” but it also allowed her to explore the rest of her life and career.

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