Tituss Burgess is breaking new ground as the lovable character of “Titus Andromedon,” an immediate favorite in the show Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt.
As an aspiring theatre performer, Andromedon is eccentric, talented and driven to succeed. Burgess, who is already a well-established Broadway performer, knows exactly how to channel his character’s soul.
“I knew exactly who we was right away,” he said in an interview with VH1. “I recognize elements of Titus in many of my colleagues in New York from our early days when I got there around 2003. I thought he was funny. I thought he was mean. I thought he was self-centered. I thought he was everything that, at that age, New York would have made a man into given his backstory and his inability to achieve his dreams.”
“It’s so peculiar how we shame each other and not celebrate the parts of us that make us us…”
When asked how he felt about people feeling like “Titus” portrays a flamboyant stereotype, Burgess said, “It makes me wonder where you guys live and who you guys hang out with. If you can tell me you know a version of Titus, then he is fair game to be played. We film this in New York City, and it’s about a man who wants to do theater. Come on, who else is he supposed to be? If you’ve encountered some like that, it is fair game to offer a representation of him.
“I think that the criticism of any of the characteristics that Titus houses is almost a bizarre discrimination—in-house discrimination, if you will. An unwillingness to see oneself inside another character. An inner hatred, if you will. An acknowledgement that those people in our community exist. People stop at how Titus says things and the sway of his walk and aren’t paying attention to the plot. There is major plot happening.”
Titus is isn’t the first feminine gay character we’ve seen on television by a landslide, but the recurring backlash throughout the years always seems to becoming from the LGBT community itself more than anywhere else.
“It’s so peculiar how we shame each other and not celebrate the parts of us that make us us,” Burgess continues. “There are some gay people who don’t act like Titus and who more closely resemble that of a heterosexual, more masculine male, but that does not a better gay make. It’s just a different breed of a gay make… In season two, we will meet that person that they are insistent that they don’t see in TV. I’d be curious to see if we get backlash for this more “straight-acting” gay man, and if we don’t, I would in a way say, Shame on you.
“…There is still a great deal of self-hatred that we refuse to deal with because we are still measuring ourselves against the norms of a masculine, heterosexual world. That is the backdrop with which we measure the man. It is so deep-seated that we subconsciously strive to be it and shame the colorfulness–or refuse to embrace the colorfulness–that truly begins to set us apart…There is nothing stereotypical about who Titus is particularly if he exists.”
The second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt was just dropped today (April 15) on Netflix.