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Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Furgeson popped by The Tie Bar's Lincoln Park pop-up shop for its opening celebration last week. The actor and his husband, Justin Mikita, recently designed a bow-tie collection for the dapper brand, and sales benefit their nonprofit organization, Tie the Knot. We had lots of questions for Furgeson, and prodded him for the scoop on everything from wedding fashion to having a seven-year-old coworker.
You have a lot of famous co-stars, but I have to know: What is it like to work with "Lily?"
Well, she's seven. So, we're dealing with real seven year old—we've all met seven-year- olds before. She's a very sweet little girl and I'm very protective of her, but there are days when I'm like "good Lord, you're going through something right now.'"
What is Halloween like on the set of Modern Family?
Well, our Halloween episodes are very good, and we have a great one coming up this year, as well. But actors are strange because we dress up every day and pretend to be someone else—that's our career. So it's always a little rough. But Eric Stonestreet, my partner on the show, loves Halloween. He's always really inventive, and the kids of course love it.
More to the point of this evening: You founded a nonprofit, which is a pretty big deal! What was the most daunting aspect of that, and how did you overcome it?
Our not-for-profit is for marriage equality, and so I think the scariest thing for me was that I actually met with senators who are voting on bills in different states. And I was very intimidated by that because I'm not a lawmaker, I don't know policy, I'm not a politician. But I was immediately eased by this sense that a lot of people really want to connect to [other] people on a human level. They really wanted to hear my story, and why marriage equality was so important to me.
Speaking of which—not to put you on the spot—but what's the best response a parent can have to a son or daughter coming out?
The best response would be to say: "This doesn't make me love you any less," and to have immediate acceptance. Whether or not people are able to do that is another story. But that would be what I would hope for.
To continue the "Tie the Knot" theme, you recently got married. Any wedding-planning tips for the recently engaged?
Well, what Justin and I did—we were given this advice from someone else—is, right after we got married, we went into a separate room and had dinner, just the two of us. It's really smart because first of all, you don't get to taste your food otherwise. If you go right out [to the ceremony after the reception], you're mingling. You want to eat, and you want to put some food in your belly, because you're probably going to have a few cocktails and some wine. And also, [a private dinner] just gives you a moment to really reflect on what happened.
I like that! Any fashion tips for grooms?
We were pretty classic at our wedding. We went with grey and black tuxedos, and we really encouraged guests to bring their own personal style to the wedding. People should be comfortable, because it's a long day. It's a long haul!
Final question: do you have any audition tips for emerging actors?
As an actor, I've had amazing auditions and I've had terrible, horrific experiences. I've left auditions feeling like I've made such an idiot of myself. But my advice would be to let that roll off your back and develop a really thick skin. Because even at this level of success I'm having right now, every once in a while I'll have a meeting that just feels terrible. You have to allow yourself to not always be perfect.
· Tie the Knot [Official Site]
· The Tie Bar[Official Site]
· All The Tie Bar Coverage [Racked Chicago]