Fuse is celebrating Pride Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future LGBTQ History before our eyes. Today we are honoring Tituss Burgess, who proves that working in Hollywood can still be fun and carefree.
Prior to starring in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the immensely talented actor and singer made his footing in the Broadway world. Burgess, who has a beautiful four-octave vocal range, debuted on the stage as Eddie in the 2005 musical Good Vibrations. He later went to star in Jersey Boys as Hal Miller, The Little Mermaid as the vibrant Sebastian, Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls and The Witch in Into the Woods. While the 38-year-old actor quickly made a name for himself on Broadway, Burgess took a little while to break into Hollwood. But boy did he make an entrance!
After scoring roles in television series like The Battery's Down, 30 Rock and Royal Pains, Burgess went on to become the main co-star in Tina Fey's 11-time Emmy-nominated sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt alongside Ellie Kemper in the title role. It debuted in 2015, is now on its third season and recently got renewed for a fourth season by Netflix. He plays Titus Andromedon, Schmidt's flamboyant and very talented gay roommate who is trying to find his big break in acting. It's a character that is lovingly reflective of Burgess' own life and has become almost everyone's favorite person to watch on Netflix.
The role landed the actor two Primetime Emmy nominations, two Critics' Choice Television nominations and one Screen Actors Guild nomination. "We share some similarities, but we are quite not alike. However, I know this man very well, and I know his struggle very well, and I know his eccentricities really well, and so getting inside of it is a piece of cake," Burgess told Entertainment Weekly in May about playing Andromedon. "Since the show has been out, though, when I meet people, sometimes they’re really disappointed—no, maybe perplexed—that I’m not s—ting glitter."
Having a character that is bold, fabulous and unapologetic on television has become a sense of comfort for others who may not be as open to share their true selves—both in the LGBTQ and heterosexual communities. Burgess recalled an emotional meeting with a fan in an interview with Los Angeles Times earlier this month:
"I'll never forget, I'd just been out to dinner with some friends and I hear these footsteps behind me, and I'm just assuming it's one of my people. And I turned around and it was this young lady who was just sobbing. So I was like, what's wrong? Can I help, or whatever? And she said, 'I was diagnosed with depression, I have gotten a divorce, which compounded the depression, and I lost my job.' And I was like, "Jesus Christ, girl, I can't imagine what all those things must feel like.' And she said, 'The one bright spot was knowing that I could have you in my house as often as I needed you.' It does feel great. In the social, political climate that we live in, where we're finding it very difficult to hold on to justices and what is right, it's a relief that there is some way I can contribute, some small blip in the pond, to give to someone."
As long as Titus Burgess continues to shine his bedazzled light on our television screens and in his everyday life, he will surely secure his place in the future of LGBTQ history.