Chase Gaewski | Photo EditorUniversity Union
‘Modern Family’ star Jesse Tyler Ferguson discusses career
Jesse Tyler Ferguson skipped onto the stage with a smile on his face and hands tucked in his coat pockets. It was to no one’s surprise that he was welcomed with roaring applause.
He sported an orange and blue bowtie given to him by University Union — just like the bowties that each member of UU also wore at the event.
Ferguson, a “Modern Family” star, brought smiles, laughter and warm energy to Syracuse University’s Goldstein Auditorium on Tuesday night at “An Evening with ‘Modern Family’s’ Jesse Tyler Ferguson,” where he drew a crowd of more than 1,300 Syracuse community members.
The event was presented by University Union Performing Arts, and co-sponsored by the LGBT Resource Center and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Television-Radio-Film department.
Richard Dubin, a television, radio and film professor, conducted the discussion. The talk started at 8:15 p.m., though it was planned to begin at 8 p.m. It began with a video for Ferguson’s Tie The Knot campaign, which sells bowties to raise money for marriage equality.
Dubin led the conversation through the small roads of Ferguson’s home in Albuquerque, N.M., to the bustling avenues of Manhattan, where Ferguson moved at 18.
The audience let out an audible “aw” toward the end of the short clip when Ferguson said, “Tie the knot, so one day we can too.”
Ferguson’s fiance, Justin Mikita, is his partner in the organization. Ferguson said it was wholly Mikita’s idea.
“I just really wanted to design bowties,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson told the audience about adversity he faced from his peers as early as middle school.
“Alabaster skin, red hair, gay — it’s not a good combination,” he said.
Ferguson switched schools in the 8th grade because of how much the bullying had elevated.
Unlike some other Hollywood stars, Ferguson attended college. He attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
“It got me to the city,” he said before whispering, “I think this school is a little better.”
Questions posed by the audience shed a lot of light on Ferguson’s relationships with the other “Modern Family” actors and actresses on and off the stage.
His opinions of his coworkers were positive, as he said he loves the whole cast.
Ferguson said that the show “operates in the real world,” and he likes the fact that his character and his character’s gay relationship function as part of normal family and have it be a nonissue.
He said that he and his partner on the show, Cam (Eric Stonestreet), aren’t “the butt of the joke (on the show.) They’re actually a participatory part of the story — a third of the family.”
For “Modern Family” fans, Ferguson told the audience that he and the other actors don’t improvise their lines too often. The writers are that good, he said.
And for those seeking some advice in how to go about getting oneself seen, Ferguson provided the following:
“A lot of it’s just putting yourself out there in as many ways as you can without being incredibly intrusive,” he said. “When people can come see you do what you do, that’s always helpful.”
He also stressed the importance of keeping one’s eyes on the prize when trying to break into the industry because “it’s really, really difficult.”
Jorge Talamantes, a sophomore psychology major, came because Ferguson is a big advocate for gay rights.
“Being a gay student, I think it’s so important to see people like him speak to us,” he said.
Talamantes found Ferguson’s obvious genuineness impactful. He is a fan of “Modern Family.”
Said Talamentes: “For him, getting to the point where he is in the media and people respecting him — it makes a big impact towards me because I want to be to the point where we’re all able to be respected like that.”
Contact Allie: email@example.com
Thomas Wolfe is leaving his position as senior vice president and dean of student affairs to become the new president of Iliff School of Theology… Read more »
UPDATED: MAY 15, 4:35 p.m. Syracuse University students will soon see new living options in downtown Syracuse, after a new construction company revamps a vacant… Read more »
Syracuse-Yale pits strength against strength. The Orange offense has spent the better part of the season dissecting, and eventually obliterating the defenses standing in its… Read more »