When Ty Burrell came to Penn State to get his master of fine arts degree, his professors knew he was exceptional.
Burrell, who is best known for his role as the father Phil Dunphy on the hit ABC comedy “Modern Family ,” is nominated for a third time at the Emmy Awards this weekend.
The Penn State alumnus is nominated for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in A Comedy Series ,” a category he was also nominated for in 2010 and was the winner of in 2011.
After completing his undergraduate studies at Southern Oregon University, Burrell joined the theater department in 1997 at Penn State.
Barry Kur, the acting associate director of the School of Theatre, taught Burrell when he was a student in the three-year MFA program and said he is excited for him.
Kur said Burrell played significant roles in the theater’s season while he was at Penn State.
The theater program built Burrell’s confidence and made him aware of his abilities, Kur said, but his talent got him nominated.
“What is unique about his nomination is that he is a part of an ensemble cast. That’s special,” Kur said. “The Emmy is about all of them.”
Kur recalls that he recognized from the beginning that Burrell was very talented.
“He is a really nice guy, every one saw that,” Kur said. “He has a great sense of humor.”
His nomination speaks well to the program at Penn State, but his nomination is based more so on the quality of the show and Burrell’s talent, Kur said.
Will Monkowski (senior-telecommunications) is the president of Penn State’s network television station, PSN-TV and said the Emmy’s are the highlight of the season in TV.
It is quite difficult to break into television like Burrell did, Monkowski said.
“You have to be either ridiculously talented or you have to catch a really good break,” he said.
In “Modern Family’s” case, it was not highly anticipated until it came out and people saw how comical it was, Monkowski said.
“[Burrell’s] character is the most relatable,” he said. “He’s a really recognizable person.”
Burrell’s nomination opens doors for students at Penn State, not just in television but also in theater, Monkowski said.
“We can say we can produce Emmy-award winners,” he said. “It just adds to the list of already great alum.”
Katherine Fisher (senior-theater) said she loves that Burrell is a Penn State graduate.
He took what he learned from here and went on to do great things, she said, adding that his motivation is inspiring to Penn State students.
Burrell can also be seen in films such as “National Treasure: Book of Secrets ” alongside Nicolas Cage, and “Morning Glory ” with Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford .
Burrell has also been in stage productions “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You ” at the Royal Court Theatre of London and was in “Burn This” beside Edward Norton.
Burrell’s nomination and past win acts as evidence that “where we are is a place that produces great talent,” Fisher said.
The Emmy Awards air live at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC.