When Colombian actress Sofia Vergara first arrived in Hollywood, she was told she wasn’t Latin enough for roles.
“I am a natural blonde,” she reveals in broken English. “I even have blonde eyelashes, so I would go to auditions and they didn’t know how to cast me because I had the strong accent, I had the attitude and I had the body, but I was blonde.”
They were comparing Vergara to her Latino counterparts: Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz, whose olive skin and brunette locks fitted the stereotypical Latina beauty.
“So I dyed my hair dark for a movie and I immediately started getting jobs because then I really became hot and Latin,” she laughs.
All this changed when the now 38 year-old landed a role in the 2003 independent film, Chasing Papi.
More movie roles followed, including Four Brothers opposite Mark Wahlberg and guest spots on Entourage and Dirty Sexy Money.
But it was her role as Gloria on the Fox sitcom Modern Family that propelled her to overnight stardom. Now in its second season and a certified global hit, Vergara is not afraid of being typecast.
Shaking her head, she smiles: “No, I’m not afraid of stereotypes because I portray a typical Latina woman who’s voluptuous, loud, passionate and personally for me, I wouldn’t want to be described in any other way. I don’t want to be quiet with no ass and boring. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that stereotype, because it exists.”
Modern Family revolves around three families who are all interrelated through the family patriarch, Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill). Jay is married for the second time to the fiery Latina Gloria (Vergara), who is half his age and together they raise her son Manny, from her previous marriage to Javier, (played by guest star, Benjamin Bratt.)
Vergara, who like her character is also a single mother, divulges that a lot of her life has been put into her character. “They created Gloria when they met me,” she says.
“As a Latin mother I try to be very present for my son. My son is 19 and he’s away at school, but I text him every 45 minutes.”
She adds: “When I started acting he used to run lines with me for auditions, because he was the only one in my house. So, I would pay him five bucks to read with me. He would always correct me on my English and then I would immediately do it wrong and he would become really frustrated with me. He speaks perfect English.”
This past Emmy season, Vergara was nominated for an Emmy for playing Gloria.
She quips: “The first thing I did when I got nominated was to rub it in my son’s face. You see, I did it, even with the accent.”