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Ahead of the Oscars, Leslie Odom Jr. explains why “being recognized” is “tremendously meaningful”

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The gravity of being honored for his work as an actor and artist is not lost on Oscar nominee Leslie Odom Jr.

The One Night in Miami star is nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Sam Cooke and Best Original Song for his moving ballad "Speak Now." Odom Jr. tells ABC Audio that he's owes everything he is as a creative to the arts.

"Arts education saved my life," he says. "And it set my feet on a path."

"All I ever really wanted to do, all I continue to want to do, my desire, my intention, is to be additive," Odom Jr. continues. "To make things — whether it's in theater or music or in cinema — to add to this story."

The Hamilton star explains that his fierce dedication to making art has always been to push important narratives forward.

"To add to the tradition, to be a part of collaboration, to be collaborating with other artists," he says. "To make things that push the profession forward a little bit — this business that I love so much."

While the actor says he's simply happy to make his contribution to various art forms "whether it's in any of the mediums," Odom Jr. is thankful and honored to be recognized.

"So if the song is recognized or if the film is recognized, it's tremendously meaningful," he adds.

The 93rd Oscars air live on Sunday, April 25, 2021 on ABC starting at 8 p.m. ET.

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