Sofía Vergara, the Colombian former Univision TV host who became famous in Latin America for her flirty personality, voluptuous physique and Latin lovers, never intended to be a scene-stealing funny girl on American TV. But that's exactly what she is on ABC's new hit comedy Modern Family. Sofia is the new hot Latina that is coming with the movie New Year’s Eve. With her we talked in Los Angeles about her role of the sassy Gloria, a Colombian icon that she created.
Q: You play “Gloria” in “Modern Family”. What is it about her that you like so much?
A: Oh, everything. She is the perfect character for me. I get to keep my accent, to speak Spanish, I get to play a Colombian, I have a kid. She is me! (Laughs). And it helps that she has money too.
Q: How has your life changed since you got the part in “Modern Family”?
A: It’s changed a lot, of course. Money wise I am much happier today than I was before (laughs). But I have been in this business for 22 years. I was used to attention, but this show has taken it to a whole new level.
Q: How do deal with your sex symbol status?
A: Well, at my age it’s a surprise, no? – I am competing against girls that are 15 years younger than me. I am proud to be competing against them.
Q: Were you always fascinated by the United States?
A: You know I grew up in a city that was only two hours away from Miami. So, we came to Miami a lot. I grew up very Americanized. I had a fun childhood.
Q: You always seem so happy. Is that a misconception?
A: No, it’s not. You know, my mother has been through a lot in her life. But we always felt that we didn’t have the luxury to get depressed. You have to live your life. You have to keep living, even when things are not that great all the time. Even in Colombia during the bad times, we would party and have weddings. You never lose hope that things can get better. That’s my philosophy in life. Always keep going.
Q: So why do you think "Modern Family" is such a success?
A: I don't know. It is a combination of many things. I think it is luck, first of all. I think also we have a great cast. The casting was amazing. We all like each other. We all have chemistry. The writers are amazing, Chris Lloyd and Steven Levitan, the creators; they know exactly what they want from the show. So it's mainly, you know, good luck.
Q: When you were first approached to play this crazy woman with this sense of humor, could you imagine that the show would be a success and even with the awards?
A: No. No. You never know with television, and I did read the script, and I thought this is a great character for me. This is perfect. I get to be Colombian, have the accent; have a kid; be an immigrant, so it was like fantastic for me. I never thought even from the pilot I started getting recognized in the street. And to be, you know, like one of the most watched shows right now, it's like totally, for all of us, it's unbelievable.
Q: How important is it that the character is Colombian? And what do you think of the jokes about Colombia that make it on the show?
A: I love it. I think it is fantastic. Everybody loves it. Colombians, we don't get offended because it is not like they are inventing things. It is not like the writers are inventing things about Colombia. It's a reality of what Colombia was and what we can do? We have to laugh about it. The country has changed. It is not like that is happening right now, in Colombia, thank God. So I don't get offended at all. I think it is hilarious. I think it's funny.
Q: So do you get recognized a lot in the street by the fans? And what sort of reactions?
A: Yeah, it is crazy. You know what; I think in person I look a little bit smaller than on the TV. So people just stare and stare, like “she is... maybe she is not.” The moment I open my mouth, "I knew it." So it's like when I go out with people they are looking at me and its like, "Mom, don't talk now. We are going to be here all like an hour more taking pictures and we need to go." As long as I don't speak I'm safe.
Q: So is there a lot of your personal stuff and from the other actors and maybe the writers as well in the shows since all of you have families?
A: Well, yeah, for them it is very easy, for example, to write for Julie and more normal families. They all have family sisters, but for them to write for a hot Latin woman, I thought it was going to be a problem, but they are great. They are fantastic. It's like they have created this character so perfect for me. And, of course, the more they know me, the more they get ideas, —sometimes they listen to me telling a story about what happened to me at Christmas or just what happened to me on the weekend.
Q: Does the cast get the chance to improvise in Spanish or add in things when you are filming?
A: You know what, we don't need to. The script is so fantastic and the group of writers are so amazing that, I'm telling you, even for me when I was worried at the beginning, "How are they going to know how a Latin woman thinks," they write my mispronunciations now. They know me so well we don't even have to — you know, — usually they write like and, "Gloria says something in Spanish" they let me say whatever I want. They are not going to tell me what to say in Spanish. And of course I say something that I think is funny, but it is a lot of fun.
Q:There are not a lot of Colombian icons. Penelope Cruz, she is Spanish and there is Salma Hayek, she is Mexican. So you think you've become like an icon to this country, that you are showing people a window?
A: Well, I love it because there is not really known actors. We have Shakira which is one of the biggest singers right now. She is from Barranquilla, my hometown. But there were no really household names on national TV. And for me it's been amazing to, you know, represent Colombia. Not only represent me as a Colombian actress, but with the show that I'm able to show a little bit of Colombia not only the stereotype things about the bad things, about the Mafia or whatever, but also about the food or the real essence of the personality of a Colombian person. They are very happy, yeah.
Q: How does your family feel about it in Colombia?
A: Oh, they love it. They love it. Sometimes I have to say, you know, names of Gloria's family and I always use my real family name like, Rosa Marina, Daniella, Paula, Sofia, they are all my cousins and they are all like, "Ahh. You said my name."
(c) America Reads Spanish
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