Jesse Tyler Ferguson (born October 22, 1975) is an American actor best known for portraying Mitchell Pritchett on the ABC sitcom Modern Family, which has earned him five nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Previously, he played the role of Richie Velch in the CBS sitcom The Class.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson was born in Missoula, Montana, the son of Anne Ferguson (née Doyle) and Robert "Bob" Ferguson. His parents divorced when he was 18 years old. Ferguson has a brother, Ben Ferguson, and sister, Kelly Ferguson.
Ferguson was named after his paternal grandmother, Jessie Uppercue Ferguson, to whom he was very close growing up.
His family moved when he was young to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was raised. At age eight he decided to become an actor, and joined the Albuquerque Children's Theater, where he was a member for six years. On his childhood beginnings: "My mom took me to a few productions. I remember sitting in the audience and watching these kids perform and thinking, 'I want to be on the other side of the floodlights.' It looked like fun up there. It came as a shock to my mom because I was such a shy kid. I didn't have that many friends in school. The group of people I met, first through the Albuquerque Children's Theatre and later through the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera, really became my good friends in Albuquerque. It was a great outlet for me to be social."
At Albuquerque's St. Pius X High School, Ferguson played Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie and General Bullmoose in Li'l Abner. He participated on the speech and debate team and graduated in 1994. He worked as a dancer/singer at Cliff's Amusement Park.
After high school Ferguson attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City.
In New York City, Ferguson worked mainly in Off-Broadway and Broadway theatre, including the Tony Award-winning The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, where he originated the role of Leaf Coneybear. In the summer of 2007 Ferguson starred in the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In March 2012, Ferguson was featured as Dr. Ilan Meyer in a performance of Dustin Lance Black's play 8, a staged reenactment of Perry v. Brown, the federal trial that overturned California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. The production was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre and broadcast on YouTube to raise money for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a non-profit organization funding the plaintiffs' legal team and sponsoring the play.
Television and film:
On television, Ferguson was among the large ensemble cast on the short-lived CBS sitcom The Class, playing Richie Velch. Ferguson co-starred in the 2008 thriller Untraceable.
Since 2009, he has played the role of Mitchell Pritchett, the openly gay lawyer on the ABC sitcom Modern Family. For his performance, Ferguson has received four consecutive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He has also appeared as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance.
Tie The Knot:
In September 2012, Ferguson with his husband Justin Mikita, who is a lawyer, started Tie The Knot, a non-profit charity effort to raise funds to support marriage equality for same-sex couples, using bow ties sold retail. They officially launched it as their engagement announcement in an online video where they explain only seven states at the time had marriage equality. In an interview Ferguson stated that he wanted to do something that was smaller and manageable in case it didn't work out as a business model.
The foundation sells limited-edition bow ties with "proceeds going to organizations nationwide that are working toward marriage equality." Their collections are designed by the couple plus guest designers, and is sold by The Tie Bar, a Naperville, Illinois-based online men's neckwear company.
In January 2013, the couple was recruited by Lieutenant Governor of Illinois Sheila Simon to lobby legislators to pass SB10 which would allow same-sex marriage. The bill passed both legislative houses, and Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law, going into effect on June 1, 2014.
In October 2013, Ferguson was named by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as a celebrity ambassador for the LGBT community, in part for his Tie The Knot charity. Specifically for the ACLU's "Out for Freedom" campaign to "promoting the adoption of marriage equality across the United States." They noted that Ferguson travelled to New Mexico, his home state, to take part in same sex marriage efforts. New Mexico does not explicitly permit or prohibit same-sex marriage; it is the only state lacking a statute or constitutional provision explicitly addressing same-sex marriage. The couple's non-profit made a grant of $10,000 to the ACLU of New Mexico for same sex efforts.
In November 2013, a pop-up retail store for Tie The Knot was located at the Los Angeles Beverly Center featuring the fourth collection from the couple, including professional athlete designs with Scott Fujita and Chris Kluwe, and Brittney Griner.
Ferguson said that he "didn't know how to tie a bow tie until I started TieTheKnot.org."
Ferguson uses his middle name because there was already an actor named Jesse Ferguson in the actor's union when he joined. In July 2014, when appearing on the TV series Who Do You Think You Are?, researching his family, he found out that "I'm not only named after my paternal grandmother, Jessie, but also after my paternal great-grandfather Jesse."
Ferguson is openly gay. In September 2012, Ferguson announced his engagement to lawyer Justin Mikita, his boyfriend of nearly two years. They married on July 20, 2013, in New York City, with the screenwriter Tony Kushner, officiating at their wedding. On how he met his husband: "I met my husband at the gym, but we always tell people it was through some 'mutual friends.'"
On the process of coming out, Ferguson said he had to tell his father three times between 17, 19, and 21 years old: "It's a coming out process for them as well" and it takes time. His sister, Kelly, is lesbian.
Ferguson owns a dog named Leaf who is "named after a character I played, Leaf Coneybear, in Broadway's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee".
Sally Hemings: An American Scandal
Young Tom Hemings
Mercury in Retrograde
Griffin and Phoenix
Arthur James Elmer
Dr. Ilan Meyer
2013 Do Something Awards
Dr. Gabe Farkus
Episode: "Icing on the Cake" (2007),
Episode: "The Passion of the Betty" (2010)
Do Not Disturb
The Battery's Down
Episode: "The Party's Over"
So You Think You Can Dance
Episode: "Another Interruption"
RuPaul's Drag Race
Episode: "Dads I'd Like to Frock"
Hot in Cleveland
Episode: "Love Is All Around"
Episode: "Tie the Knot",
On the Town
November 19, 1998 - January 17, 1999
The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told
Where Do We Live
A Midsummer Night's Dream
(Shakespeare in the Park)
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
May 2, 2005 - January 20, 2008
On the Twentieth Century
The Winter's Tale
(Shakespeare in the Park)
The Merchant of Venice
(Shakespeare in the Park)
July 27-29, 2012
A Comedy of Errors
(Shakespeare in the Park)
2005 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Ensemble Performance - The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,
2010 Screen Actors Guild Award: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2011 Screen Actors Guild Award: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2012 Screen Actors Guild Award: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2013 Screen Actors Guild Award: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2009 Screen Actors Guild Award: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2012 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2012 People's Choice Awards - Favorite TV Comedy Actor - Modern Family,
2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Modern Family,
2013 People's Choice Awards - Favorite TV Comedy Actor - Modern Family,
2014 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Modern Family
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