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Sofia Vergara by Juan Moreno | 5th March, 2021 | Personalities

Colombian-born Sofia Vergara is the highest-paid actress in the world. This is only marginally due to her incredible looks and all the more down to her assured comedic abilities and her capacity to recover from tragic events.

It’s difficult to say whether beautiful women have it easier in life. Opinions differ. Beauty is sometimes said to be a gift, but it can also be a burden. It’s certainly no guarantor of success, and even less of happiness. Beauty has consequences, that much seems certain. So when thinking about Sofia Vergara’s rise to fame as an actress, it is easy to assume that her success has come about primarily because she’s so gorgeous.

The highest paid actress on the planet at present is neither Jennifer Lawrence, nor Scarlett Johansson, nor Angelina Jolie – it’s Sofia Vergara. According to Forbes Magazine, she earned a reported 43 million dollars last year. She starred in the sitcom “Modern Family,” and is said to have been paid half a million dollars per episode. In the show, she plays a hysterically funny South American bombshell, a politically incorrect stereotype who drives her on-screen husband (played by Ed O’Neill, the actor famous for portraying Al Bundy in “Married with Children”) – and many others – crazy.

The native Colombian seems to embody her sitcom character even outside the show: curvy and full-lipped, with a Spanish accent that eclipses even fellow actor Antonio Banderas’s struggle with English pronunciation. Vergara’s fans – among them a remarkable number of women – say that she’s “pure sex appeal and really fun.” U.S. network NBC has a female Zorro show in the pipeline, in which she is to star as the lead. If you look a little closer at Sofia Vergara’s career it quickly becomes apparent that her success is not based on her good looks, nor her artistry, for that matter. Vergara is not a brilliant actress, which she would probably be the first to admit. Iconic actress Sharon Stone once made a very insightful statement about the fate of beautiful women in Hollywood: “It’s not easy to be as beautiful as you look.” In the eyes of her fans, Sofia Vergara manages that with aplomb: she is as beautiful as she looks. She became famous for being a strong woman who hardly misses an opportunity to laugh at her own weaknesses.

She flirts, teases and provokes. In the studio, Sofia Vergara is a force of nature.

The spectacularly attractive Latina would never think of making doe eyes at someone just to get through an interview. The best example of this is when Vergara appears on the the male-dominated, late night show circuit on U.S. television that she has mastered better than most anyone else. In her appearances, she is the epitome of a seductive, quick-witted icon who leaves her long line of hosts speechless. She flirts, teases and provokes – and delivers her punchlines with a dreamlike casualness. These men, usually paragons of self-confidence, cling to their index cards in desperation, realizing very soon that they will never get to ask the questions they’ve prepared, but not understanding what is happening to them. In the studio, Vergara is a force of nature, one that audiences adore.

Once, one of these shows tried to poke fun at her strong Spanish accent and asked her to read out some tweets: “Sofia Vergara sounds like she has a d*** in her mouth. I hate the way she speaks,” said one of them unkindly. Vergara responded: “And what’s wrong with having a d*** in your mouth?”

At an award show quite early on in her career, she was asked to introduce herself briefly. Wearing a tight white dress with a plunging neckline, she proclaimed: “I was raised in Barranquilla, Colombia in a very traditional, Catholic household. My father told me that if I did anything artistic, I would look like a prostitute. I replied: ‘With these huge breasts I inherited from your mother, I look like a prostitute anyway.’ I am Sofia Vergara, and I’m an actress.”

Vergara is so funny, she makes you totally forget how beautiful she is, which is something few attractive people succeed in doing. It’s also something that sets her apart from other Hollywood beauties. It makes her unique, and in large part explains her 43-million-dollar paycheck. You cannot just replace her with another beautiful Latina. She has been criticized for this, of course: Some said her provocative, often erotic appearance propagates the stereotype of the naive, superficial Latina. Many columnists wrote that her sexualized demeanor was, in the end, anti-feminist. Vergara has often responded to such criticisms with mild, good-natured incredulity. “Who doesn’t like being called attractive? I don’t think about that kind of thing at all. I am who I am. What am I supposed to do, run around with a paper bag over my head?”

One of the reasons why Vergara is relatively immune to such hostility can probably be found in her life story. When you examine it, attacks by East Coast intellectuals and their ideas of what women should be like, are probably not the most important thing in her world. Sofia Vergara was born into a wealthy family in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1972. Her father had made lots of money breeding cattle, while her mother looked after their five children. When she was 18, Sofia married her childhood sweetheart José González and gave birth to their son Manolo when she was only 19. While out for a walk, she was approached by a casting agent. Had she considered appearing in commercials? Vergara had not in fact given a moment thought to making money using her good looks, but decided to give it a try. What followed was a photo shoot and a commercial for Pepsi, which made her famous all over Latin America. Before she knew it, TV stations were enquiring about her. Her marriage to José fell apart just as quickly. Still only in her early twenties, Vergara was suddenly a single mom and studying dentistry on the side.

In the 1990s, Colombia was ruled by lawlessness. Drug lord Pablo Escobar terrorized the population, marauding gangs controlled vast swaths of the country’s territory. The death rates in Cali, Bogotá und Medellín were among the highest in the world and kidnappings followed by ransom demands were a daily occurrence. One of the victims of these violent years was Sofia’s older brother Rafael, who was only 27 at the time. His killer was never apprehended. Vergara’s mother, Margarita, would never be the same again. “She was like a totally different person, a zombie,” says the actress.

At that time, Sofia Vergara and her son Manolo already lived in Miami. She had dropped out of dentistry school to work as a presenter for a Spanish language channel. After the murder of her brother, she brought the whole family over to the U.S., with the exception of her father, as her parents had already separated. Rafael’s death had devastated them all. Her brother Julio, who had been very close to his older brother, never got over Rafael’s death and slowly lost control of his life. He got addicted to alcohol, then hard drugs and became a petty criminal addicted to crack cocaine. In the end, he was deported back to Colombia. “Watching someone die slowly for ten years is the worst kind of punishment,” says Vergara.

In the year 2000, when she was 28, another tragedy hit: doctors diagnosed her with thyroid cancer. The organ had to be removed. The experience has deeply affected her, and she is very involved with cancer charities to this day. When asked about this time in her life, she always has the same response. “I don’t complain when bad things happen. I just keep going.” Why take to your bed, depressed, when you could spend that energy to get your life back on track?

She did exactly that. The first small breakthrough came shortly after her recovery in 2002 – a supporting role in the Hollywood comedy Big Trouble. After picking up some other, smaller parts, in 2009 she was cast in the sitcom that would end up changing everything: Sofia Vergara played Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in “Modern Family,” a role she has described as “the role of a lifetime.” A loud, curvy Latina married to a significantly older American man, who throughout the series cannot decide whether this attractive woman is the best thing that has ever happened to him or whether so much vivacity and energy will kill him in the end.

Vergara was nominated for an Emmy four years in a row, from 2010 to 2013. Last year she was awarded the prestigious People’s Choice Award in the Comedy category. Sofia Vergara is the most popular comedic actress in the U.S. and relishes her success. In an interview with an Arabic-language magazine, she once said that she did not subscribe to the motto “less is more.” Ascetic minimalism was not her thing at all. In fact, her motto was “more is more.”

She loves beautiful clothes, exuberant parties, going shopping with her friends, and her favorite course is dessert. She works out because the job demands it and because it’s good for her health, but she doesn’t do it because she actually likes it. Five years ago, Vergara married Joe Manganiello, who starred in True Blood and who has recently been tipped for several superhero parts, which is quite obvious, given the way he looks. Manganiello is a muscly giant, just shy of two meters tall, and is considered an exceptionally skilled actor.

Compared with others in Hollywood, where Vergara has been living for the last 15 years, the two of them lead a rather quiet life in their 26-million-dollar mansion in Beverly Hills. For a while, rumors were circulating that they were trying for a baby, but they seem to have decided against it. Vergara is 48 and is very close to Manolo, her grown-up son. When he was recently asked what kind of a mother she was, he responded: “She yells a lot and is over-protective. She’s the best mother there is. A typical Latina.” This, too, is a stereotypical image of her that Sofia Vergara won’t have a problem living with.

IssueGG Magazine 02/21