Auburn University students walked away from one of this year’s Tiger Talks with a little music in their hearts.
Emmy-nominated actor and Broadway star Tituss Burgess came to Auburn with the help of the University Program Council’s Tiger Talk. The council brought him in to speak to students about his life and accomplishments, as well as advice for Auburn students.
“A friend told me to say ‘War Eagle!’” Burgess said as he greeted Auburn students at the Tiger Talk 2017 event on Aug. 31.
Burgess began the Tiger Talk explaining there would be students invited to the stage to take part in a “talk show” hosted by them.
The first student moderator to be chosen was Angel Brown, sophomore in chemical engineering. Brown asked Burgess about his time working with the show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” of which he is nominated for an Emmy, and his favorite parts of the job.
“Not the hours,” Burgess said. “My energy level is about a two, but [my character] has a lot.”
Burgess attributed his costumes for getting him into character but said he has much gratitude for his job and loves working with his boss, Tina Fey.
He told the audience about his time before landing the role on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” He said he had just left his job on Broadway and prayed for a new opportunity, promising that he would give back after a big break.
Burgess landed his first Broadway show a year and a half after moving to New York City and said he is grateful and lucky that he had such a good experience finding a job in theater so quickly.
Brown then asked Burgess of his opinion on people of color having problems finding jobs in theater.
Burgess said the theater has a bad time wanting to hire people of color as the “big black woman who stops the show,” he said. He said he had to enter a stage of blocking theater from himself to get out of the loop he, as a man of color, had been put into.
He was asked by another student on his opinion of diversity in the workplace, not just related to theater.
“I work for a very smart woman and company,” Burgess said, referring to Fey and Netflix.
He gave advice to the students, telling them to make sure to do research on the person or company interviewing them for future jobs. Paying attention to their beliefs and charitable donations are ways to understand who you are trying to work for, he said.
“You have to remember that you are also interviewing them,” he said.
“Treat the janitor the same way you treat your boss,” Burgess said. “Good character is something that is key to growing your career.”
Burgess then advised his audience about individuality.
“For the sake of the world, be you,” he said. “No one’s going to do it like you. If you know how to put a subject and preterit together, you can say anything.”
During the Tiger Talk, two students were called up to the stage to sing with the star. At the end, Burgess bid farewell to the University with a jazz song by Harold Arlen.