Sofia Vergara, born Sofia Margarita Vergara Vergara, is a Columbian-American actress and model. Her first big appearance in the spotlight occurred in the late 90s when she co-hosted two Spanish TV shows for the network Univisión. After that, she appeared in a few English films and TV shows – the most popular being the comedy show, Modern Family. In 2014, Forbes magazine ranked her as the 32nd most powerful woman in the world.
Sofia was born to mother, Margarita Vergara de Vergara and father, Julio Enrique Vergara Robayo. She was born in Barranquilla, Columbia and was raised as Roman Catholic. Her mother was a housewife while her father was a cattle rancher for the meat industry. She has four siblings, Sandra – an adopted sister of Sofia’s who is also an actress and model – Rafael, Veronica and Julio. She learned English while attending Marymount School Barranquilla – a bilingual school – and went on to study dentistry at a university in Columbia. She did not complete her degree however, and dropped out after two semesters in order to pursue a career in modeling and TV. She made her way into the modeling industry when discovered by a photographer on a beach in Colombia.
Sofia’s big break came when she was able to star in a Pepsi commercial for the Latin American market. It was then that she enrolled at the Creative Workshops School of Acting. Later, she began modeling and starred in a Mexican telenovela. She relocated to the United States where she became a television personality for two shows on the network, Univisión. Her talent was then recognized by the English-speaking world of Hollywood and by the end of the decade she was awarded the Hispanic Woman of the Year award. It was during this time that Sofia’s brother, Rafael was killed in her home country.
In the early 2000s, Sofia began starring in English films such as Big Trouble and Chasing Papi. Her first big leading role in film came when she starred in the 2011 movie, The Three Stooges. Not before long, she was named the highest-earning woman in US television, earning $19 million the previous year. She was also named one of People magazine’s ‘50 Most Beautiful People’ and one of the most influential Latin women in Hollywood.
But it wasn’t until 2009 that Sofia made a huge name for herself by taking on the role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in the hit ABC TV show, Modern Family. In this show, she plays the wife of Jay Pritchett (Ed O’ Neil). The show was an instant hit and went on to win several Emmy Awards. Sofia was awarded four consecutive nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress and four Golden Globe nominations for the comedy show. She continued to take on comedy roles such as co-starring in The Smurfs movie and voicing the role of Carmen in Happy Feet 2. She can also be seen in the films, New Year’s Eve, Fading Gigolo and Chef. She has proven herself to be just as entertaining in the genre of action, starring in the film, Machete Kills in 2013. Sofia was given her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 7, 2015.
Sofia has also contributed to several causes, one of which was a video tribute to the victims of the 2016 Orlando shooting. In this video, Sofia tells the stories of the people who were killed there.
She has taken part in a number of endorsements such as being named the face of CoverGirl, an American cosmetic brand, and starring in their commercial in January 2012. In that year, she also appeared in a second Pepsi commercial alongside David Beckham. She has also taken on the role of designing a clothing line for K-mart for “soccer moms” and was seen in a few commercials for Xfinity and State Farm. She has her own perfume line and jewelry collection too.
While many agree that Sofia is an absolute beauty, some hold the opinion that her role on Modern Family holds too much of a Latin stereotype. Sofia responded to this by saying, “What’s wrong with being a stereotype? Gloria’s character is inspired by my mom and my aunt. They are both Latin women who grew up in Colombia, like me. They love color, prints and shoes.” She says that she is not in the least bit bothered by the fact that her role is seen as a stereotype. She does however; get upset when other “Latinos complain about Gloria”.
She says, “I am grateful for the opportunity because the gringos have let me in with this strong accent I have. Eight years ago nobody had an accent like this on television.” She continued to say; “I don’t see anything bad about being stereotyped as a Latin woman. We are yellers, we’re pretty, we’re sexy and we’re scandalous. I am not scared of the stereotypes.”
Alternatively, other media outlets and members of the public feel that she is an inspiration. They admire her for admitting to the fact that she doesn’t work out and that she is “very happy” with what she has and many love the fact that she can laugh at herself (such as the episode of Sofia on the Ellen Show where she has trouble pronouncing English words).
At the age of 18, Sofia married her high school sweetheart, Joe Gonzalez. Together, they had one son, Manolo, who was born in September 1992. The pair divorced in 1993. In July 2012, she became engaged to Nick Loeb, a film production company co-owner from New York, but broke it off in May of 2014. The pair went through a legal battle concerned with the control over Sofia’s frozen embryos, created via vitro fertilization, when they were dating. The embryos are still, to this day, in storage at a medical clinic in California. Loeb claims that Sofia threatened to destroy them – an accusation which Sofia denies.
In an interview, her attorney said, “Vergara is content to leave the embryos frozen indefinitely.” A lawsuit was filed against Sofia in hope that the embryos were given a chance to further develop at a later stage, via a surrogate carrier. If this were to happen, the child would benefit from an inheritance trust that had previously been created. The lawsuit was brought about in order to break the contract, signed by both Sofia and Loeb, stating that the embryos could not be used without the consent of both parties.
In 2009, a lump was discovered in Sofia’s neck by her endocrinologist and she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. As a result, she had to have her thyroid removed. She underwent a series of radioiodine therapy and made a full recovery. Today, she takes medication in order to prevent hypothyroidism and has created a foundation to help families in Colombia deal with cancer.
Sofia’s younger brother, Julio – who had also moved to the US – was deported back to Colombia in May 2011 after being arrested the month prior. Julio is said to have suffered a longtime drug addiction and other run-ins with the law having been arrested more than a dozen times.
Sofia talks about her brother by saying, “To see someone dying over 10 years, little by little, that’s the worst punishment. Now he’s like another person.”
In 2014, Sofia began dating Joe Manganiello, a star on the hit TV show, True Blood. The couple got engaged on Christmas Day 2014 after only dating for six months. They married on November 2015 in Palm Beach, Florida.
Sofia’s son, Manolo Gonzalez Vergara, now 24-years old, has also made his way into the spotlight by being photographed by Paper Magazine alongside model, Stevie DeFelice. He’s also a director and currently working on his own short film. Additionally, Sofia and Manolo have appeared in a commercial for Head & Shoulders together in 2014.
Sofia has been asked several times to dye her hair brown for her roles in order to portray the stereotypical Hispanic. In actuality, her hair is naturally blonde. She also admits that she scored a perfect score on her US citizenship test.
Written by: Helena Lorimer