Leslie Odom Jr to Receive Spotlight Award From Palm Springs Film Festival

Leslie Odom Jr. will receive the Spotlight Award, Actor from the Palm Springs International Film Awards for his role in “One Night in Miami,” PSIFA organizers announced on Monday.

Odom plays iconic soul singer Sam Cooke in the film from director Regina King and also does his own singing on Cooke classics like “Chain Gang” and “A Change Is Gonna Come.” “I was terrified,” he told TheWrap of playing Cooke in the drama, which is based on an actual night in which Cooke, boxer Muhammad Ali (then called Cassius Clay), activist Malcolm X and football star Jim Brown met in a Miami hotel room after one of Ali’s fights.

Odom also co-wrote and performs a new song, “Speak Now,” in the film.

Past recipients of PSIFF’s Spotlight Award, Actor include Timothée Chalamet, Jamie Foxx, Sam Rockwell and J.K. Simmons.

“Leslie Odom Jr. is a truly talented performer,” PSIFF Chairman Harold Matzner said in a statement. “In his latest project, ‘One Night in Miami,’ Odom Jr. brilliantly portrays singer Sam Cooke with charisma and tenacity, as he joins iconic figures Malcolm X, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown in this fictionalized account that is based on their actual meeting.”

This year’s festival and Awards Gala will not take place as in-person events, but PSIFF is nonetheless announcing a slate of awards recipients. The previously announced honorees are Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal” (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor), Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman” (International Star Award), Gary Oldman for “Mank” (Chairman’s Award), Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” (Director of the Year Award) and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Vanguard Award).

Odom is best known for his role as Aaron Burr in the musical “Hamilton,” for which he won Tony and Grammy Awards. His other film and television performances include “Harriet,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Red Tails” and “Central Park.”

Alice G. Collins

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