Also Credited As:Jesse Ferguson
|October 22, 1975|
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Jesse Tyler Ferguson was born in Missoula, MO on Oct. 22, 1975, and raised in Albuquerque, NM. He began acting at age eight when he joined the Albuquerque Children's Theater. The future star was also a member of his high school's speech and debate team, and starred in productions of "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Li'l Abner." He moved to New York City after high school and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
New York's theater scene gave Ferguson his first taste of show business with his Broadway debut in a production of "On the Town." He had a starring role in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," which earned a Tony Award nomination in 2005. The actor later said "Putnam County" was one of the best labor of love experiences of his life. His off-Broadway appearances included memorable performances in "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," "Little Fish," and "Hair." By 2000, Ferguson had moved to screen work, with a minor role in "Sally Hemings: An American Scandal" (CBS, 2000), a made-for-television film about the controversial 38-year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress.
After a handful of independent film appearances, including the drama "Ordinary Sinner' (2001) and the comedy short "Mercury in Retrograde" (2002), Ferguson returned to the small screen in "The Class," a sitcom about seven former classmates who reunite as adults and rekindle long-lost relationships. The theater-trained actor played Richie Velch, the elementary school nerd who falls for the same girl who barely noticed him in school 20 years earlier. However, the buzz surrounding "The Class" and a People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Comedy in 2007 was not enough to save the show from cancellation after just one season.
Ferguson's next TV series "Do Not Disturb" suffered the same fate as "The Class." The comedy about a kooky staff of workers at a posh New York hotel that starred Jerry O'Connell and Niecy Nash only lasted one season due to poor ratings. Ferguson played Larry, a gay man working at the hotel. LGBT groups such as GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) were disappointed with the cancellation of "Do Not Disturb" because the Larry character was in a long term relationship, rarely seen in shows such as "Will & Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006). It was also reported that the character of Larry was based on "Do Not Disturb" creator Abraham Higginbotham's real life experiences.
In 2009, Ferguson was cast in "Modern Family," an ensemble series that followed the lives of three very different families, including a gay couple who have adopted a Vietnamese baby. Ferguson played one of the show's gay dads opposite Eric Stonestreet. "Modern Family" focused on the couple's life after their adoption, with Ferguson's character being more serious than his partner and the one with more trepidation about being a father. That same year, the actor appeared opposite Matthew Broderick and Sanaa Lathan in the romantic feature comedy, "Wonderful World." Meanwhile, Ferguson's continually hilarious "Modern Family" performance earned the actor Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2010 and 2011, putting him in contention against his co-star and onscreen boyfriend, Eric Stonestreet.