Tituss Burgess Q&A: ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’
"In order for a character this expressive and flowery to work, we had to show more of his emotional side than just the fun stuff," reveals Tituss Burgess during our recent video chat about his breakthrough role this season on the new comedy series "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." On the Netflix show, Burgess plays Titus Andromedon, an underemployed actor who works odd jobs in New York while trying to get on Broadway. He reluctantly welcomes the title character of the program (Ellie Kemper) to be his roommate when she moves to the city. "We wanted to create a world that real people lived in who found themselves in extreme situations. I think that is part of the reason it has worked out so well, that all the characters are three-dimensional and not just cartoons. I got to do a lot of things that ran the scope of the emotional rainbow."
Burgess was a recent Critics Choice TV Awards nominee for Best Comedy Supporting Actor (losing to T.J. Miller from "Silicon Valley") for his portrayal of a over-the-top yet extremely talented performer. He corrects the common misperceptions of the character. "People always say that Titus is the most outlandish, but I disagree wholeheartedly. Lillian (Carol Kane) is a freakin' criminal. She's walking the streets, selling drugs. She murdered her husband and all sorts of crazy things. Titus is probably the least threatening of them all."
While the fictional Titus is struggling to make it as an actor, the real Tituss has enjoyed great success on Broadway. He made his 2005 debut in "Good Vibrations" and then followed immediately in "Jersey Boys." He was the original Sebastian the Crab in "The Little Mermaid" (2007) and then had the stand-out role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the revival of "Guys and Dolls" (2009).