Actor Tituss Burgess is the breakout star of Tina Fey's comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. For the uninitiated: Kimmy, played by Ellie Kemper, is the ridiculously optimistic survivor of a doomsday cult who starts a new life in New York after being rescued from a bunker where she was held by 'The Reverend' for fifteen years.
Her New York housemate? That would be Tituss Burgess, whose on-screen character (also called Titus, note the subtle spelling difference) is a flamboyant, gay struggling actor. It's a premise that that leads to hilarity and lots of heart.
At the Netflix event in Paris, Tituss shared his advice on being an awesome housemate.
ELLE: What are your top tips for being a brilliant housemate?
Tituss Burgess: Well, five top tips from Tituss Burgess: clean up after yourself, don't eat your roommates food without asking, pay your rent on time, pay your rent on time, pay your rent on time. Top tips from the character Titus: make sure someone cleans up after you, make sure they've gone to the grocery store to get all the things you need and make sure that they can pay your rent, make sure that they can pay your rent, make sure that they can pay your rent.
ELLE: Is swapping and sharing clothes good housemate etiquette?
TB: Not for me, and probably not for Titus. However, Titus is so elaborate and fabulous and Kimmy is always in a fashion emergency, so he always comes to the rescue, that's sort of his superhero power.
ELLE: Do you want to raid on-screen Titus's wardrobe?
TB: Absolutely not. I have no desire to wear his clothes. I don't like flashy things.
ELLE: In what ways are you similar to your character?
TB: We share a love of music, and musical theatre. I collect musical theatre anthologies. I have a whole library of them. When I need to exorcise a demon I grab whatever score is going to house the song I need to sing out of my system and I sing it. We both love food and have a wicked sense of humour. That's about where it stops.
ELLE: On-screen Titus believes in past lives - do you share this belief?
TB: Hmm, I believe I've been to earth several times, I don't necessarily know the incarnation but I house a… this is good… I house a fatigue from familiarity of experiences that I think are compounded from having been here before. I actually think this is the last time I'm going to have to come here.
ELLE: Is it important for a housemate to be on hand to give sound advice?
TB: It depends on if you and your housemate are friends. I know for some New Yorkers having a housemate is a business arrangement. But I think a little friendly advice is good, how can you not become close when you're living in close proximity? And it's always easier to someone else's issues more clearly than it is to see your own.
ELLE: Any rules about respecting personal space when living with someone?
TB: Yeah, stay out of it. Personally, I'm very private, so when my door is closed it means I'm unavailable and when it's open it doesn't mean you can come in.
ELLE: Could you live with your character?
TB: Absolutely not. What a nightmare he is. He is so entitled, loud and stands by things sometimes even though he knows they're wrong. I can't tolerate that.
ELLE: Do you think you are easy to live with in real life?
TB: I'm great to live with because I'm quiet and I don't require a lot of outside stimulation. Also, I like to cook so I would probably be making most of your meals.
ELLE: If you wanted to win over a new housemate what would you cook them?
TB: A good Southern meal: I'd fry some chicken, make macaroni and cheese, a potato salad, some collard greens and some sweet tea.
ELLE: Who would be your fantasy housemate?
TB: Meryl Streep. She's got a sense of humour about herself, she doesn't take herself seriously. And she's obviously a great thinker otherwise she wouldn't be able to pick such diverse and well crafted roles. She loves musical theatre, like me, and she feels very grounded and that's the type of person I would love to spend my day with. I feel like if we were quiet and didn't have much to say, for whatever reason, it wouldn't be weird.
ELLE: If you were chilling with Meryl on the sofa what would be on the TV?
TB: We'd probably watch Real Housewives of Atlanta together - something so far away from us but that we could totally get inside of.
Series 2 of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is available on Netflix from 15 April.
(Words: Georgia Simmons Images: Getty)