“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” star Tituss Burgess returned to his native Georgia on Wednesday as a state hero — even though he doesn’t consider himself one.
“Georgia is my heart,” the actor said. “But there are some things,legislatively, that Georgia needs to get woke on real quick. So I don’t know if I can relish in being a hero because the work isn’t done.”
GLAAD presented Burgess, who grew up in Athens, Georgia, with its Local Hero Award at the GLAAD Gala Atlanta. The state has recently found itself in the national spotlight over controversial comments made by one of its lawmakers.
This week, Georgia state representative Betty Price, a Republican, was slammed after making comments suggesting that HIV-positive Georgians should be quarantined.
Price, who is also the wife of former U.S. health secretary Tom Price, later told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in a statement that she was simply being “provocative” and that she is not in favor of quarantines.
Burgess, who is openly gay and has found fame playing the gay character of aspiring performer Titus Andromedon on his Netflix series, said he was deeply honored by the award, despite the fact he is just doing what comes naturally.
“I do everything on purpose,” he said. “I haven’t so much fought for LGBTQ rights as much as I’ve fought to be myself, which is something our current administration insists that I not be able to do.”
Burgess is outspoken about his political beliefs, along with his gratitude for the success he’s enjoying on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
With three seasons under his belt, Burgess has been nominated for Emmys and a Critics Choice Award.
He aspires to do right by those who have supported him.
“We all are flawed, we all are beautifully flawed,” he said. “I only hope to make [fans] proud, to give them something to aspire to, to be proud of and to latch on to. That is my sincerest, earnest desire. The rest is a residual effect.”
In his GLAAD award acceptance speech, Burgess paid tribute to his heroes: people of color, women and those in the transgender community who are “living their truth.”
“When I think of a hero, I think of someone who is doing what others won’t,” he said. “A person who is a walking example of humanity who won’t shut up. In this administration, we can’t shut up.”