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Jesse Tyler Ferguson

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Ferguson at the Yahoo News/ABCNews Pre-White House Correspondents' dinner reception pre-party, May 2014
Ferguson in 2014
Born (1975-10-22) October 22, 1975
Missoula, Montana
United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1998–present
Spouse(s) Justin Mikita (m. 2013)

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.

Early years

Jesse Tyler Ferguson was born in Missoula, Montana, the son of Anne Ferguson (née Doyle) and Robert "Bob" Ferguson.[1] 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,[2] to whom he was very close growing up.[3]

His family moved when he was young to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was raised.[4] 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."[5]

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.[6] He worked as a dancer/singer at Cliff's Amusement Park.[5]

After high school Ferguson attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City.



Jesse Tyler Ferguson with Modern Family co-star Eric Stonestreet at the 2010 HRC National Dinner

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.[7] 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 [9][10]

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

Ferguson at a PFLAG event on October 1, 2010.

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.[11] They officially launched it as their engagement announcement in an online video where they explain only seven states at the time had marriage equality.[11][12][13] 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.[14]

The foundation sells limited-edition bow ties with "proceeds going to organizations nationwide that are working toward marriage equality."[15] 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.[15]

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.[15] The bill passed both legislative houses,[16][17] and Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law,[18] going into effect on June 1, 2014.[19]

Ferguson at the Muppets Most Wanted premiere on March 11, 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.[20] Specifically for the ACLU's "Out for Freedom" campaign to "promoting the adoption of marriage equality across the United States."[21] 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.[22] The couple’s non-profit made a grant of $10,000 to the ACLU of New Mexico for same sex efforts.[20]

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,[23] including professional athlete designs with Scott Fujita and Chris Kluwe, and Brittney Griner.[24]

Ferguson said that he "didn't know how to tie a bow tie until I started"[25]

Personal life

Ferguson uses his middle name because there was already an actor named Jesse Ferguson in the actor's union when he joined.[25] 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."[25]

Ferguson is openly gay. In September 2012, Ferguson announced his engagement to lawyer Justin Mikita, his boyfriend of nearly two years.[26] They married on July 20, 2013, in New York City,[27] 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.'"[25]

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.[28] His sister, Kelly, is lesbian.[29]

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".[25]



Year Title Role Notes
2000 Sally Hemings: An American Scandal Young Tom Hemings TV film
2001 Ordinary Sinner Ogden
2004 Mercury in Retrograde Duane Short film
2006 Griffin and Phoenix Student
2008 Untraceable Arthur James Elmer
2009 Wonderful World Cyril
2012 The Procession Short film
2012 8 Dr. Ilan Meyer
2012 Red Short
2013 2013 Do Something Awards Honoree TV film


Year Title Role Notes
2006–2007 The Class Richie Velch 19 episodes
2007, 2010 Ugly Betty Dr. Gabe Farkus Episode: "Icing on the Cake" (2007)
Episode: "The Passion of the Betty" (2010)
2008 Do Not Disturb Larry 5 episodes
2009 The Battery's Down Shamus McKelvy Episode: "The Party's Over"
2009–present Modern Family Mitchell Pritchett Main character
2011–2013 So You Think You Can Dance Himself 7 episodes
Guest judge
2012 Submissions Only Jared Halstead Episode: "Another Interruption"
2012 RuPaul's Drag Race Himself Episode: "Dads I'd Like to Frock"
2013 Web Therapy Steve Olson 3 episodes
2013 Hot in Cleveland Wes Episode: "Love Is All Around"
2013 Project Runway Himself Episode: "Tie the Knot"
Guest judge


Year Title Role Notes
1998–1999 On the Town Chip Broadway revival
November 19, 1998 – January 17, 1999
The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told Off-Broadway
Little Fish Marco Off-Broadway
Where Do We Live
Hair Margaret Mead
SantaLand Diaries
A Midsummer Night's Dream Francis Flute Public Theater
(Shakespeare in the Park)
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
2005–2008 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Leaf Coneybear Broadway
May 2, 2005 – January 20, 2008
2005 On the Twentieth Century Max Jacobs Special concert
September 26
2010 The Winter's Tale Shepard's Son Public Theater
(Shakespeare in the Park)
2010 The Merchant of Venice Launcelot Gobbo Public Theater
(Shakespeare in the Park)
2012 The Producers Leo Bloom Hollywood Bowl
July 27–29, 2012
2013 A Comedy of Errors Public Theater
(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


  1. ^ "Robert B Ferguson". United States Public Records, 1970-2009.  
  2. ^ "Jesse Tyler Ferguson follows the trouble-filled story of his great-grandfather’s life—and draws conclusions about his ultimate legacy".  
  3. ^ Strohm, Emily (July 30, 2014). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson Discovers a Dark Crime While Tracing His Family Tree".  
  4. ^ "Modern Family Biography: Mitchell Played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson".  
  5. ^ a b Allen, Steven Robert (September 19–25, 2013). "Wedding Bells for Jesse Tyler Ferguson". Alibi. V.22 No.38. Retrieved 4 August 2014. 
  6. ^ Artavia, David (21 May 2013). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson Slams His Former Catholic School for Forcing Trans Teen to Wear Women's Graduation Garb".  
  7. ^ Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2011
  8. ^ "'Glee' Stars 'Touched' By Pitt & Clooney's Support of '8'".  
  9. ^ 8': A Play about the Fight for Marriage Equality"'".  
  10. ^ "YouTube to broadcast Proposition 8 play live".  
  11. ^ a b "Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson Buys Gwen Stefani's Home for $4.55 Million". Realty Today. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  12. ^ Riggs, Erika (5 November 2013). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson Buys Gwen Stefani’s Former Home".  
  13. ^ Modern Family' Star Jesse Tyler Ferguson Marries!"'".  
  14. ^ Interview with Ferguson by David Letterman, Late Night with David Letterman, CBS, November 20, 2013.
  15. ^ a b c "Gay marriage bill voted through Illinois House".  
  16. ^ Garcia, Monique; Long, Ray (5 November 2013). "Lawmakers approve gay marriage in Illinois".  
  17. ^ "Gay marriage bill passes in Illinois house, senate - on to governors desk".  
  18. ^ Garcia, Monique (20 November 2013). "Quinn signs Illinois gay marriage bill".  
  19. ^ Geiger, Kim (5 November 2013). "Q&A on same-sex marriage".  
  20. ^ a b "ACLU Names Celebrity Ambassadors for Key Civil Liberties Issues".  
  21. ^ Ehrman-Dupre, Joseph (29 October 2013). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson Named Celebrity Ambassador For Marriage Equality By ACLU: VIDEO".  
  22. ^ Grovum, Jake (12 February 2013). "How New Mexico Legalized Gay Marriage – For 8 Hours". Statelines ( 
  23. ^ Matthew Breen. "Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson releases bow tie collection". Pursuitist. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  24. ^ Tschorn, Adam (18 November 2013). "Tie the Knot pops up at the Beverly Center through Jan. 10". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  25. ^ a b c d e "Jesse Tyler Ferguson 25 Things You Don't Know About Me".  
  26. ^ Chi, Paul (19 September 2012). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson Is Engaged to Justin Mikita".  
  27. ^ Rizzo, Monica (21 July 2013). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson Marries Justin Mikita".  
  28. ^ Winfrey, Oprah (27 October 2013). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Dan Bucatinsky and Wanda Sykes Reflect on Coming Out" (video interview).  
  29. ^ Keith, Bill (27 March 2011). "Jesse Tyler Ferguson: A Gentleman in Full".  

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