Actor Tituss Burgess is far removed from his days growing up and going to school in Athens. After graduating from the University of Georgia, he moved to New York City and never looked back.
In recent years, Burgess became even more tied to NYC with his breakout role as Titus Andromedon on Netflix’s very New York-centric “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Titus (as in the character) was flamboyant and absurdly hilarious as a wannabe actor/singer who rooms with Kimmy. The series, which officially ended last year, came back for a special “pick your own story” film last month.
Burgess is also the voice of a sweet 11-year-old named Cole Tillerman in a new Apple TV+ animated musical series “Central Park,” which debuted May 29 and is from the makers of “Bob’s Burgers.”
Cole’s dad Owen (Leslie Odom Jr.) manages the vaunted Central Park in Manhattan. Cole has a deep love for animals and falls in love with Bitsy Branderham’s dog. Bitsy, voiced with devilish glee by Stanley Tucci, is a rich older businesswoman who hates Central Park and wants it replaced by condos and retail space.
In both shows, he gets to show off his vocal skills. One of the highlights of the “Kimmy Schmidt” movie is Titus crooning “Free Bird” in a small-town bar.
Burgess in recent years had lived in Harlem but wanted more space and last year moved over the water to Weehawken, New Jersey, which hugs the Hudson River and oversees Manhattan.
“I needed to see some trees and didn’t want to go to Central Park to see one,” Burgess said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
But he isn’t far removed from the city he still loves.
“I can stand on my balcony and see all of New York,” he said. “I don’t feel like I left.”
Both “Kimmy” and “Central Park” are delightfully quirky love letters to a city that has recently been shut down by the pandemic, its many tight-knit charms factored into the rapid spread of COVID-19 earlier this year.
“On a personal level, ‘Central Park’ is something I love seeing at this time,” Burgess said. “It gives me hope for New York when it does open back up. On a pure entertainment level, it’s something that the entire family can watch. Adults will get the adult jokes and everyone will feel like they are in on an inside joke.”
As for the “Kimmy” movie, which enables Netflix viewers to pick different scenarios at certain juncture points, “I found it challenging to film so many different versions,” he said. “On some level, you’d think it’s not hard to remember, but the lines are often so close to each other.”
Burgess, like most people in the tri-state area, has largely sequestered himself and has had to promote these shows remotely.
“We’ve gone out for takeout and grocery stores and to visit my partner’s mom in Harlem,” he said. “We sometimes get in the car and just drive around.”
But he said he’s gained weight in quarantine despite having a gym in the garage. “I can’t find the motivation to go downstairs to do it,” he said. “I was going to do it today, but then I ended up doing all these interviews. So you’re keeping me from working out, and I’ve gained another pound!”
WHERE TO WATCH
“Central Park” is now available for Apple TV+ subscribers
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend” is on Netflix.
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