Justin Paul is an Oscar-winning lyricist and Tony-winning composer/lyricist, best known for his songwriting partnership with Benj Pasek. Alongside Pasek, Paul won his first Tony Award in 2017 for the score of the Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. This came only shortly after winning an Academy Award for the lyrics to “City of Stars” from the film La La Land.
Paul was musically gifted from an early age, playing piano, drums and singing in church as a child. When he was eight, he began attending a performing arts program at the Music Theatre of Connecticut. Paul holds a BFA in musical theater from the University of Michigan, where he first met fellow theater student Benj Pasek during his first year. After discovering a shared interest, they quickly began working together.
Their first collaboration, Edges, was a song cycle that went viral within the musical theater-student community and was performed at schools around the country. In 2006, they were awarded the prestigious Jonathan Larson Award – which highlights writers and composers trying to break into the field – making them the youngest to have ever won the accolade.
After graduating, Paul found continued success. He worked for the Disney Channel along with his creative partner, and was later hired to write for the stage musical version of James and the Giant Peach.
Paul debuted on Broadway in 2012, when he and Pasek rewrote the score of A Christmas Story: The Musical. In 2013, the duo contributed multiple songs to the Broadway-themed ABC series Smash.
Dear Evan Hansen opened on Broadway in December 2016. At the same time, La La Land’s soundtrack – which featured lyrics by Pasek & Paul – reached number two on the Billboard 200. The film won six Academy Awards, including Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” which Paul co-wrote. In the meantime, Dear Even Hansen was a wild success. It received nine Tony nominations and won six, including Best Score and Best Musical.
In 2017, their music could be heard in the musical biopic The Greatest Showman, about P.T. Barnum.