Star Spotlight: Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Oct 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. ET

Jesse Tyler Ferguson stepped onstage at age 8 and never looked back. Now he's one of the funniest men on TV, playing the very popular character Mitchell on Modern Family. He's in our Star Spotlight, and that's a place he may want to get used to.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Vital stats

Birthday: Oct. 22, 1975

Astrological Sign: Libra

Hometown: Missoula, Montana

Height: 5 feet, 10 inches

Family: Brother Ben, sister Kelly, partner Justin Mikita

Jesse Tyler Ferguson isn't just one of the funniest men in prime-time television — he also plays one of the few gay characters on prime-time television. His character, Mitchell, is the uptight, somewhat long-suffering partner of Cam on Modern Family. The couple adopted daughter Lily on the show and are portraying same-sex marriage and parenting with side-splitting hilarity — and audiences are loving it. Modern Family was nominated for 12 Emmys in 2013 (and won for Best Comedy Series, among others), with Ferguson nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Ferguson is an endearing thespian, not just for the work he does on Modern Family but for being a good sport. When he lost an Emmy last year to his on-screen partner Eric Stonestreet, he launched a "campaign" on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that said things like Stonestreet "steals gay American jobs" and that he is "a liar" and an "a** kisser." The ad closed with Ferguson saying he "approves this message." Now that is losing with flair! This year, Ferguson was nominated and Stonestreet wasn't, so maybe (tongue in cheek) the ad worked.

"Mitchell" wasn't always one of the funniest guys on TV. He was born in Missoula, Montana, and shortly thereafter he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his family. He started to perform in children's theater when he was 8.

He told Barbara Walters how he was treated differently growing up.

"There were times I'd be called names, pinned up against a fence with my jacket and left out there after the recess bell and the teacher had to come find me."

We wonder what those bullies think of Ferguson's differences now that he is one of the most celebrated actors on television.

In July, Ferguson married his boyfriend of two years, Justin Mikita — and all of Ferguson's "Modern Family" was in attendance. The couple started Tie the Knot, an organization that sells bow ties and donates the proceeds to marriage equality. When the couple married, they asked that donations be made to Tie the Knot in lieu of gifts. Regardless of how Ferguson performs at the Emmys, he's a winner in our eyes!

Watch Jesse Tyler Ferguson on the Sept. 25 premiere of Modern Family on ABC.

More actors in the Star Spotlight

AnnaSophia Robb
Zooey Deschanel
Adam Young

Photo credit: Joseph Marzullo/