After only five years as a full-time actress in the U.S., Sofia Vergara has earned a supporting actress in a comedy Emmy nomination for her role as Gloria on ABC’s mockumentary comedy “Modern Family.” The single mom and native Colombian chats with THR’s Leslie Bruce about her red-carpet look, Arizona’s immigration law and her nonaudition for “Family.”
The Hollywood Reporter: Congratulations on your first Emmy nomination! You are still fairly new to Hollywood. How does it feel to be nominated so early in your American TV career?
Vergara: I never imagined that I would be nominated for anything. I’m still very new to acting, so I already feel like I won an Emmy. I’ve never taken an acting class, but I’ve been learning on the fly. Most of my scenes are with Ed O’Neill so when I doubt something, I just look at him and I know if I’m doing it right. He’s such a professional. I use to watch “Married … With Children” in Colombia. I was very disappointed when we first met, because I thought he had a voice like Antonio Banderas since his voice was dubbed, but he doesn’t know one word in Spanish!
THR: What was your audition like for “Family”?
Vergara: Actually, I didn’t audition. The creators wrote the role for me. I’ve had a holding deal with ABC for four years, and I was cast in other shows that were canceled in the first season. But ABC didn’t let me go. Steve McPherson, the ABC president until recently, really believed in me from the beginning. He said, “I need to find you something.” He sent me to meet with Chris Lloyd and Steve Levitan before they had really written the script. And so they built the character for me.
THR: Did you ever feel pressured to lose your Colombian accent?
Vergara: No one has told me to get rid of the accent, but you can’t compare the opportunities you get to an American-accented actress. When they get 10 scripts a week, I get two a month. Early on, I hired somebody very expensive to help, but my auditions were getting worse because I was forgetting to act and focusing on the pronunciations. My 19-year-old son always makes fun of me, saying, “You’re the only person I know that after living here so long, your accent gets worse.” So the first thing I did after getting nominated was call him and rub it in his face!
THR: What’s the biggest difference between working in South America and in the U.S.?
Vergara: The dollars. It’s the truth: the beautiful American dollars.
THR: Having created a new life for yourself in America, what are your feelings about Arizona’s new immigration law?
Vergara: As an immigrant, it’s very hard. Honestly, I can’t be more thankful to this country. I’ve never felt treated differently because I’m Latin. I think as immigrants we have to accept that we’re in a country that isn’t ours, so we have to adapt to what they’re offering us and accept it. We have to be grateful to be in a country that is allowing us to raise our families. From my experience, it’s a country that has given me an opportunity to raise my family, to work and make money. It’s a very delicate situation.
THR: Any idea what — or who — you’ll be wearing on the red carpet?
Vergara: I don’t know, but I have a lot of options. Usually it’s a nightmare because I don’t fit in any sample sizes because, obviously, I’m not a sample size. So I always had to wear the one dress that fit me, even if the color was wrong. Now, I have a lot of designers sending me options. I’m teaming up with Suave this year and they did a contest on Facebook where people get to pick my hairstyle — it can be fun or it can be hideous. So we gave them three options and whichever hairstyle people vote for, that’s what I’ll be wearing.
Sofia Vergara’s U.S. breakthroughs
2004: Vergara has a cameo (as herself) in Jessy Terrero’s 2004 comedy “Soul Plane,” marking her entrada into American cinema.
2005: La Colombiana lands a supporting role in John Singleton’s “Four Brothers” as the aptly named Sofi, alongside Mark Wahlberg and fellow model-turned-actor Tyrese Gibson.
2005: Vergara flaunts her capacidad de comedia in ABC’s short-lived ensemble comedy, “Hot Properties,” as one of four women working in a Manhattan real estate office.
2007: Vergara plays Esperanza Villalobos in another ABC comedy series, “Knights of Prosperity,” which was canceled after its first season.
2009: Viva Vergara! She stars in ABC’s breakout comedy “Modern Family” and snags her first Emmy nomination.
2011: Proving that she’s more than a pretty face, Vergara will lend her voice — and accento –to Raja Gosnell’s 2011 animated feature “The Smurfs.”
Joey Farewell in Los Angeles contributed to this report.