The Untold Truth Of Jesse Tyler Ferguson

You know actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson for playing Mitchell Pritchett on ABC's long-running sitcom Modern Family, which began in 2009 and secured a total of 11 seasons. But what else do you know about this famous face from the hit show?

The star, who was born in Missoula, Mont., clearly made his goal of becoming an actor happen with massive success, appearing in the likes of The Class, Web Therapy, and Ugly Betty. However, there are plenty more fascinating facts to discover about the multi-faceted Ferguson, including his career beginnings, his acting fears, and his home life.

Read on to uncover more of the lesser-known details that flesh out the life of not just Jesse Tyler Ferguson the famous actor and reality TV host — but also Jesse Tyler Ferguson the impassioned activist, advocate, philanthropist, foodie, and family man. Spoiler alert: There is a lot you don't know about the popular redheaded celebrity.

How Jesse Tyler Ferguson got his start

By now, Jesse Tyler Ferguson has a shelf full of Screen Actors Guild Awards for famously being a part of the ensemble of the popular ABC show Modern Family. But before his career took off on the small screen, it started on Broadway.

Ferguson played the role of Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which made its debut at Circle in the Square Theatre in 2005, according to Playbill. That show was highly decorated as well, by the way — scoring nominations for six Tonys, including best musical, and taking home the statuette for best book of a musical.

In the years since Spelling Bee, Ferguson has starred in other stage shows as well, such as Shakespeare in the Park's A Comedy of Errors alongside Hamish Linklater in 2013 and in 2016's Fully Committed. For the latter, he received the Drama Desk Award for outstanding solo performance.

This aspect of acting "terrifies" Jesse Tyler Ferguson

With such a longstanding career on both the stage and TV, you might expect Jesse Tyler Ferguson to be plenty comfortable in all kinds of situations in front of an audience. But you'd be wrong. What format positively gives him the heebie-jeebies? Well, that would be improv, as he's admitted.

"I don't like improv at all. It terrifies me," he told Interview in 2012. He explained that his reservations are the result of a preference "to know exactly what I'm going to say" before he's required to give lines.

But he also admitted to Interview that the exercise of improv does help his craft overall — and that getting out of a comfort zone makes a difference for artists across the board. Noting that improvisation helps him become more skilled in his career, he explained that being afraid of something "makes me rise to the occasion" and that such challenges are what push actors to greatness.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson came out to his dad three different times

Jesse Tyler Ferguson always knew he was gay growing up, but his attempts to communicate that information to his parents didn't go seamlessly. In fact, he famously had to come out to his father multiple times in order to get the message to stick.

Ferguson told Oprah Winfrey on Oprah's Next Chapter that he came out to his father not once, not twice, but three times. "He would conveniently kind of forget," Ferguson explained. "The last one was he asked if I had a girlfriend, and I was like, 'Dad, I'm gay. Do we really have to go back to this every time?'"

But Ferguson communicated to Winfrey that he was respectful of his dad's own need to process what might have felt like uncomfortable or at least unexpected information — and to give him the space and time he needed to do that. Ferguson told Winfrey, "He had this whole idea of what his son was going to be and he had to reconfigure his thinking." Ferguson noted that his father had to explain this development to colleagues and friends, as well.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson has been married to husband Justin Mikita since 2013

Jesse Tyler Ferguson married lawyer Justin Mikita, one of many celeb spouses who work a regular job, back in July 2013, as reported by People. At the time, Ferguson was 37 and Mikita was 27, and they had already been together for about two years. Appropriately, considering Ferguson's Broadway roots, the playwright Tony Kushner officiated the wedding.

In a twist of timing, the couple wed in New York City, although they lived in California. That's because the pair had already arranged to marry out of state, given that same-sex marriage was not legal in California during their wedding-planning process. By the time their big day was upon them, it would have been legal for the two to wed in their home state — but their plans were already locked down across the country. In an interview on The View (via People), Ferguson explained, "Weddings are expensive, y'all, and we wanted to give that money to a state that accepted us as an equal. We're too far down the planning path to change."

Among the guests were Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley, and Mary Murphy, whom Ferguson knew from his stint as a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a political activist

Along with husband Justin Mikita, Jesse Tyler Ferguson uses his high-profile platform to advocate and raise awareness for political causes close to his heart.

In a 2018 guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, Ferguson wrote of the importance of the mid-term elections, and he urged readers to vote — in a voice that was powerful but tinged with his signature humor. "If you and I were brunching this weekend, you would hear me and my friends talking about why the 2018 election matters. Yes, there's more to brunching in L.A. than avocado toast and overnight oats," he began. He went on to explain why he thinks President Donald Trump poses a threat to LGBTQ Americans.

He wrapped up his impassioned column by saying, "Perhaps this year we can spend a little more time looking over our ballots than the menu. I'd recommend not ordering the bigot." Clearly, Ferguson is not afraid to voice his opinions!

Jesse Tyler Ferguson founded a nonprofit

Jesse Tyler Ferguson founded the nonprofit Tie The Knot with the goal "to advocate for LGBTQ civil rights throughout the United States [and] beyond, and to look damn good while doing it," according to the organization's website. Back in 2012, he started the organization as a lively way to engage Americans in the fight for marriage equality. And then after 2015, when the goal was actually achieved, Tie The Knot focused on LGBTQ rights in the U.S. more generally, as well as marriage freedom efforts around the world.

With fashion design partners, Tie The Knot releases collections seasonally. Mainly, these include bow ties — a wardrobe staple Ferguson is often seen wearing on red carpets and other appearances — as well as other accessories like tie bars and jewelry. Each product is produced in limited quantity to keep it unique. Proceeds then go to organizations fighting for LGBTQ equality. The nonprofit also keeps an active blog to share relevant news and developments.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is an ACLU ambassador

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union, which launched its Ambassador Project with a slate of actors, musicians, and comedians committed to using their profiles to help the organization work on issues like racial justice and voting rights back in 2013. He was in that first group of six, committing to advance the marriage equality cause. As an ACLU ambassador, he's able to meet with Congress members, receive access to legislative hearings, and more.

That year, Ferguson traveled with his then-new husband, Justin Mikita, to New Mexico to rally people around the marriage equality front. He's also made financial contributions to the group through his nonprofit, Tie the Knot.

For the record, other members of that first ACLU ambassador group alongside Ferguson included Harry Belafonte, W. Kamau Bell, Lewis Black, Melissa Etheridge, and Cyndi Lauper. In addition to Ferguson's focus on marriage equality, the group's efforts also centered on mass incarceration, voting rights, marijuana laws, and HIV/AIDS.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson once beefed with Kirk Cameron

Back in 2012, actor Kirk Cameron made some remarks about homosexuality and gay marriage that did not go over well with his former Growing Pains co-stars and other actors, including Jesse Tyler Ferguson.

Cameron told CNN's Piers Morgan that homosexuality was "unnatural" and "ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." In response, Twitter lit up. Tracey Gold, who played Cameron's sister on Growing Pains, tweeted, "I am a strong supporter of the #LGBT Community, and I believe in equal rights for all. #NOH8 #LOVE."

But it was Ferguson who slayed the clapback game on Twitter, with a tweet that managed to skate a delicate line between sick burn and a dose of flattery, too. "The only unnatural thing about me being gay is that I had a crush on Kirk Cameron until about 24 hours ago," Ferguson wrote. For his part, Cameron stuck to his opinion on the matter.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a major Taylor Swift fan

Jesse Tyler Ferguson has a lot of love for pop star Taylor Swift — and the feeling is mutual. Swift made a surprise appearance at New York's Stonewall Inn, a landmark location in LGBTQ history, to help mark the 50-year milestone since the riots at that venue in 1969. After an introduction from Ferguson, Swift performed for the crowd gathered at the 2019 event.

The Modern Family star hung around to help Swift perform her hit "Shake It Off," which Swift told the crowd was his among his faves. "I heard that this is Jesse's favorite song to do at karaoke," she told the crowd, according to Vanity Fair. "So if there's anything you feel like you want to jump in on, if there's like, your part that you're really good at, then, just sing, dance, just be yourself. This is a really safe space."

That night, the Modern Family star tweeted a message to reveal the surprise appearance to fans and to thank Swift for her ongoing support of the LGBTQ community. He added, "We [heart] you!" Yeah, it's safe it say Ferguson is not one of the celebrities who can't stand Taylor Swift.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson's Los Angeles home is downright dreamy

In 2018, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and husband Justin Mikita opened up their Los Angeles home for an Architectural Digest tour — proving their posh pad is an absolute jaw-dropper. The 1928 Spanish Colonial home in the Loz Feliz area of Los Angeles has Gothic interior details like painted ceilings, stained glass, and wrought iron detailing. Interior designer Peter Gurski, who was also the Will & Grace set decorator, decked out the four-bedroom home that spans almost 5,000 square-feet.

The couple showed off to Architectural Digest huge portraits of their dog Leaf (named after Ferguson's character in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and a curious portrait of President George W. Bush — what seems like an odd choice for a couple who've crusaded for marriage equality... until you realize it's actually a punchline. Ferguson told AD that if you look closely at the art, you'll see that it's actually a cheeky collage by Jonathan Yeo of, ahem, adult images.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a food blogger

Yes, we have already well established that Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a man of many talents — and of many interests. And to the multi-hyphenate's already long list of roles and projects, here's where we add "food blogger," too. Indeed, he's a major foodie, and he runs a food blog called Julie & Jesse with chef Julie Tanous, who develops recipes. 

In 2017, Ferguson told Food and Wine that the pair are best friends and started cooking together — a shared activity that eventually led to the idea to launch the blog. "We were having such a great time working together and cooking together that we wanted to share some of our ideas and the joy in our kitchen with my fans," he said. He also told Food and Wine about his recipe-development process for the blog, explaining that he works from cookbooks, derives inspiration from other foodies, and enjoys changing up recipes to put his own spin on them.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson announced he was expecting his first child

After about seven years of marriage to husband Justin Mikita, Jesse Tyler Ferguson at last revealed the pair were expecting their first child together. He dropped the big baby news during a January 2020 episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden — in the midst of an apparently casual conversation about advice for people turning 40.

In describing his own experience with the big 4-0 milestone, he explained it felt like a time to start getting serious about things. And he followed that up with a very serious and exciting bit of news indeed, delivered with his signature humor to Cordon, fellow guest Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam, and the studio audience. He shared, "Actually, this is something I haven't even mentioned to anyone, if we could just keep it between the three of us and you all, but I'm actually expecting a baby in July with my husband."

As the audience burst into applause and Cordon expressed shock and joy, Ferguson jokingly admonished the group to keep the news quiet.

Why Jesse Tyler Ferguson decided to host Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

In 2020, Jesse Tyler Ferguson became the host of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition revival, and, while he's thrilled about the project now, he admitted he initially approached it with some hesitation. "When this came to me to host Extreme Makeover, I think I was initially nervous about it being reality TV," he told TV Insider. He explained that he'd been approached to do reality TV in the past, but it never felt like quite the right project.

However in this case, he said, the role is actually right up his alley. "I mean, I'm a humanitarian, I love giving back," he said, "so the fact that I could pair that with something I also love, which is home design, it felt like the perfect meeting."

He added that he'd been a fan of the show in its original incarnation with host Ty Pennington, so he feels "so blessed and honored" to be part of the reboot. It always touched him deeply to see families getting their needs met with a home upgrade, and now he gets to be part of the team helping them.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson is really rich

As an actor, Jesse Tyler Ferguson has made himself a very wealthy man with a net worth estimated to be around $20 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. He earned the bulk of his cash acting on Broadway, in films, and, of course, on television, where his role on ABC's Modern Family served as a major source of income starting in 2009. From 2014 to 2018, Ferguson earned $190,000 per episode of the show, according to Celebrity Net Worth. As the show established itself as a huge success — and its stars' wattage only increased — Ferguson's salary jumped to $500,000 per episode in 2018.

Yes, $20 million is a lot. Fortunately for many, Ferguson and husband Justin Mikita are well known as philanthropists, and they give back to the community and support causes important to them through their nonprofit Tie The Knot. And let's not forget Ferguson's role as an ACLU Ambassador.