With Sofia Vergara’s signature accent and drop-dead gorgeous looks, the sometimes-controversial actress has triumphantly blossomed from an insecure young woman to the vivacious on-screen talent that we know and love her as today. So, read on to learn more about the life and career of Sofia Vergara, the woman who seems to have it all.
1. She’s Twice The Vergara
On July 10, 1972, Sofia Margarita Vergara Vergara—no, that’s not a typo—was born to a Roman Catholic family in Barranquilla, Colombia. Because Spanish naming customs traditionally include both the father’s and mother’s surnames in the child’s name, Sofia got a double-dose of the name Vergara! Her father’s name was Julio Enrique Vergara Robayo, and her mother’s name was Margarita Vergara de Vergara. That’s not the only unusual thing about her…
2. She Had Humble Beginnings
Celebrities today are ubiquitous with wealth and luxury, and fans love imagining their faves living the high life in constant Instagram-worthy, idealized versions of their lives. But not many consider the origins of their favorite celebs, and as glamorous as she is, Vergara comes from much more modest roots: her mother was a homemaker, and her father was a cattle rancher. She’d stray quite far from those roots in time.
3. Her Nickname Is Quirky
“Sofia” is a beautiful name that any girl would be lucky to bear. However, Vergara’s family actually refer to her by a different name altogether. Apparently, her five siblings and cousins call her “Toti.” While we can’t be sure of the curious moniker’s meaning or sentiment to the family, it sounds like a cute little nickname.
4. She Went To A Private School
As a child, Vergara attended a top private Catholic school called Marymount School Barranquilla. Despite being located in Colombia, the school operates its programs based on the American education system. Educators teach roughly 99% of its primary and elementary curriculums in English. As a result, all its students are bilingual. Neat! That would help her a lot later in life…
5. Her “Discovery” Was Picturesque
Although one might only expect such a scenario to play out in a corny movie, Sofia Vergara was discovered by a photographer while walking along a beach in Colombia. From there, the lucky lady quickly found herself awash with job offers for modeling and television, leading to the very lucrative career we know her for today—but it wasn’t an overnight climb to the top.
6. She’s Superstitious
Everyone has their own beliefs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In Vergara’s case, her mother raised her to respect the influence of the evil eye. According to Vergara, her mother used to keep evil eye symbols everywhere to protect the family from negative energies and negative people. Now, Vergara always keeps an evil eye on her person for the same reason. Let’s face it; it seems to be working for her.
7. She Hesitated To Become An Actress
Today we know Vergara as leading-lady material, but this wasn’t always the case. When casting agents wanted her for a Pepsi commercial when she was 17, Vergara was surprisingly apprehensive. That is, until her Catholic schoolteachers gave their personal permission for her to shoot for the stars. So, she did.
8. She Was A Teen Bride
At the young age of 18, Vergara married her high school sweetheart, Joe Gonzalez. However, their picture-perfect union soon crumbled to pieces. After giving birth to their son, Manolo, in September 1992, Vergara and Gonzalez sought a divorce just a year later.
9. She Didn’t Plan For The Spotlight
While a woman like Vergara might have seemed predestined for fame, her earlier career ambitions didn’t involve embracing stardom in Tinseltown. Believe it or not, she spent three years studying dentistry at the National University of Colombia. But with only two semesters left to complete her degree, she abandoned school to pursue her modeling and showbiz career. But soon, heartbreak…
10. Tragedy Overtook Her Family
In 1998, a devastating tragedy struck too close to home. In a kidnapping-attempt-gone-wrong, assailants murdered Vergara’s older brother, Rafael. Grieving and wanting to escape the nightmare of the deadly incident, Vergara decided to emigrate to the United States, and she brought her son, mother, and sister to join her. The family settled together in Miami, Florida.
11. She’s Not The Only Actress In Her Family
Although she’s undoubtedly the better-known entertainer in her family, Vergara wasn’t the only one bitten by the acting bug! Her equally stunning cousin/adopted younger sister, Sandra Vergara, is also an actress with a long list of credits to her name. You might recognize her from her former recurring role as Theresa Corazon on The Bold and the Beautiful.
12. She’s Often“Restyled” To Play Up To Clichés
Sofia Vergara is gorgeous regardless of her hair color, but contrary to popular belief, she’s not a natural brunette—she’s on team blonde! While there’s nothing wrong with having blonde hair—apart from being on the wrong end of the occasional blonde joke—the Colombian beauty often gets asked to dye her hair darker to appear more “stereotypically Hispanic” in her roles…hmm. Well, she has her own reasons for being okay with this…
13. She Was Ashamed Of Her Bust Size
Of course, everyone has moments of insecurity about their appearance, and Vergara was no exception. As a young teenager, she used make heartbreaking pleas to her mother. She would beg for breast-reduction surgery, because she hated being a size DD. But her mother encouraged her to wait, claiming that her feelings might one day change…and she was right.
Now, Vergara embraces her body and has since grown to love her busty appearance, saying, “I’m grateful I have them, and honestly, they’ve helped me a lot in my career. And I’ve always felt sexy.” But not everyone in her family agreed…
14. Her Father Body-Shamed Her
Although Vergara’s looks made her a natural shoo-in for the spotlight, her father feared that her busty figure would work against her. “My father told me if I did anything artistic, I would look like a hooker,” she explained. But Vergara’s positivity and natural humor kicked in. “I told him, ‘With these huge boobs that I inherited from your mother, I already look like a hooker!’”
Fortunately, she didn’t listen to her naysayers…
15. She Walked The Catwalk
Modeling is an oft-coveted profession that—if successful—offers plenty of opportunities to travel and network with various people. Even so, it’s not uncommon for budding actors and actresses to use modeling as a gateway to increasing their exposure in the performance industry, and Vergara was no exception. Before she fully transitioned into the world of acting, Vergara herself sashayed down the runway when she was 23 years old.
16. She Studied Her Craft
They say practice makes perfect, and it’s a saying that holds true regardless of the endeavor. While not all actors choose to undergo formal training, Vergara opted to hone her acting skills for film and television at the Creative Workshops School of Acting. Besides Vergara, the school also counts singer Gloria Estefan among its alumni.
17. She’s A Survivor
In 2000, doctors gave Sofia Vergara a devastating diagnosis. They told her she had cancer—thyroid cancer, to be exact. Her treatment plan included the complete surgical removal of her thyroid, followed by radioiodine therapy. Luckily, Vergara made a full recovery, although she does now have to take medication for hypothyroidism. However, it weighed on her heavily…
18. She Hid Her Illness
For a long time afterward, Sofia Vergara kept her bout with cancer a closely-guarded secret. She reasoned, “I didn’t want publicity because of that. Having cancer is not fun. You don’t want to deal with anything else while you’re going through it.” Good call. Who wants reporters and fans clamoring for interviews and photos while you’re sick? No one.
19. She Acted On Broadway
Modern Family may have poked fun at her character’s singing voice on-screen, but it turns out that Vergara really can sing in real life. In 2009, the versatile actress starred as Matron “Mama” Morton in the popular musical hit Chicago on Broadway. So, if anyone out there wants to replace their memories of Gloria’s off-key caterwauling with something…shall we say, nicer, try giving her stage performances a quick Google search. It’s not a cure, but it helps.
20. She Named Her Son After A Tragic Movie Character
Parenting is weird—you grow a random human and call it whatever you want. Parents today find inspiration for the perfect name in anything, anywhere. In Vergara’s case, she found inspiration for her son’s name in a disturbing place. She named her son, Manolo, after Manolo “Manny” Ribera, one of the doomed characters from the movie Scarface. Likewise, her son on Modern Family is also called Manny. Coincidence?
21. She Participated In Her Son’s Web Series
As a comedic actress, it stands to reason that Sofia Vergara would have a good sense of humor—a trait that apparently runs in her family, too. In 2012, Vergara’s son, Manolo, featured his mother in what appeared to be a mockumentary web series called Mi Vida con Toty, which supposedly offered an amusing “behind-the-scenes” glimpse into their lives.
Not everyone would be so willing to poke fun at themselves, so props to Vergara for being a good sport.
22. Her Brother Has A Problem
Sadly, the loss of her brother Rafael wasn’t the only tragedy in the Vergara family. Addiction is awful, and it’s terrible having to watch a loved one struggle through it. Vergara’s younger brother, Julio, suffered from a prolonged addiction and was deported from the US in 2011 after he clashed with the law. She explained, “To see somebody dying over 10 years, little by little, that’s the worst punishment. Now he’s like another person.”
23. Her TV Role Was Glorious
Although she enjoyed a successful television career in Colombia, her breakthrough role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on Modern Family made her a household name in North America. In fact, she played her part so well that she earned four Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series from 2010–2013. Not too shabby, eh?
24. She Embraces Her Stereotypes
The perpetuation of racial and cultural stereotypes in characters on-screen is problematic for several reasons, and critics recurrently accuse Vergara of playing to the stereotypes of Latina women. However, Vergara herself doesn’t see the issue in her case, especially concerning her portrayal of Gloria on Modern Family, asking, “What’s wrong with being a stereotype?”
For Vergara, the “stereotypes” Gloria represents are actually based on the positive characteristics of the female role models she had while growing up in Colombia…
25. She Based Her Modern Family Character On Her Family
According to Sofia Vergara, “Gloria’s character is inspired by my mom and my aunt. They are both Latina women who grew up in Colombia, like me. They love color, prints, and shoes. I’m like that too: a voluptuous, intense, happy woman who wants to get involved in everything with her partner to help.” However, Vergara wasn’t always as accepting of her “voluptuous” appearance as she lets on…
26. She’s A Perfect American
After her older brother’s tragic passing, Vergara moved to the United States, where she’s resided with her family ever since. But in 2014, the Colombia-born beauty finally became a full-fledged American citizen after passing her citizenship test with a perfect score. Afterward, Vergara announced the exciting news on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
27. She Has A Star On Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame
To receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a prestigious achievement awarded only to very select honorees within the entertainment industry, and of course, Sofia Vergara is one of them. The actress received her star on the popular tourist destination on May 7, 2015, thereby cementing her place among the Hollywood greats.
28. A Director Mocked Her Name
Although people widely frown upon this kind of thing these days, director Peter Farrelly openly mocked Vergara’s name by calling her Sofia “Viagra” while working on The Three Stooges film set together. But don’t worry; it was all in jest, and the director was supposedly teasing her affectionately. Thankfully, Vergara can take a joke…
29. She’s A Philanthropic Entrepreneur
Vergara is a busy woman, and among her many business ventures, she also co-founded an underwear company called EBY. “So, what’s the big deal?” you might ask. Well, besides selling women’s skivvies, the company also works to empower impoverished women worldwide by providing them with microfinance loans through the Seven Bar Foundation; this, in turn, affords them the opportunity to become entrepreneurs themselves. Pretty cool, right?
30. She Helped To Honor The Orlando Shooting Victims
The 2016 mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida, was nothing short of tragic and heartbreaking—49 innocent people lost their lives that night. In response, 49 celebrities—including Vergara—came together in a video tribute to individually name and share each victim’s story to ensure that the world would remember them all.
31. She Sued A Beauty Company
Vergara has ended up in court more than a few times. In 2017, the actress ended up suing Venus Concept for using her likeness to promote their products without her permission. You have to wonder why companies do this; do they really think that celebrities somehow won’t notice?
32. She Wasn’t Much Younger Than Her On-Screen Mom
Modern Family was a hilarious show, and Sofia Vergara really shined through her character, Gloria. One of the sitcom’s major comedic plot points focused on the age differences between some of the characters, most notably between Gloria and her husband, Jay (Ed O’Neill), and between Gloria and her step-daughter, Claire (Julie Bowen).
But what viewers may not have realized was how close in age Vergara and the actress who played her on-screen mother, Pilar Ramirez (Elizabeth Peña), were in real life. In actuality, Vergara was only just 13 years Peña’s junior! Awkward…
33. She Was Disappointed By One Of Her Co-Stars
Speaking of Modern Family, Vergara used to watch her former on-screen husband, actor Ed O’Neill, in the Spanish-dubbed version of one of his other previous shows, Married with Children. This was back when she still lived in Colombia. However, after producers cast her as his wife, Gloria, on Modern Family, Vergara was in for a disappointment. She was sad to learn upon meeting him that he didn’t actually speak Spanish.
34. She Donates To Charity
On top of everything else in her busy life, Sofia Vergara also works with a lot of charities. She generously donated a pediatric cancer pavilion to her hometown of Barranquilla, and in 2001, she created the Peace and Hope for the Children of Colombia charity foundation to help the children in her home country. Vergara also works closely with St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Seriously, when does this woman ever sleep?
35. She Was Honored For Her Charity Work
While attending the Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s “An Unforgettable Evening” event in 2018, Vergara was presented with the to recognize her efforts supporting the fight against cancer. Upon accepting the award, she revealed that her own cancer experience made her passionate about cancer research. She also commented that working with the children’s hospital remains one of her “greatest joys.”
36. She Was The Highest Paid Actress of 2020
Thanks to her numerous on-screen successes, Vergara currently ranks as the highest-paid actress in the world. According to Forbes, she managed to edge out mega movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Gal Gadot, and Melissa McCarthy for the first place spot after earning a whopping $43 million in 2020. Holy smokes. Cha-Ching!
37. She Thinks Cosmetic Surgery Is Weird
Everyone has an opinion about elective cosmetic surgery, and Sofia Vergara doesn’t appear to be someone who’d hesitate to speak her mind. Despite wanting it in her youth, Vergara now stands firmly against it, bluntly asserting, “Los Angeles is crazy. The women all look the same now. That thing with the cheeks. Like Madonna. Who do they think they’re fooling? It doesn’t make them look young. You end up looking like a freak.” Touché.
38. She’s A Fashion Designer
Maybe she gets bored, or perhaps she just enjoys taking on new challenges, but Vergara successfully managed to tick the “fashion designer” box on her list of accomplishments. Among her many designs is her Walmart.com denim line, which debuted in 2019 and is reportedly super comfortable, size-inclusive, and sells for under $40—genuine yay!
So, for all the readers out there who happen to admire Vergara’s fashion sense, there’s your shopping tip for the day—you’re welcome).
39. Her Family Inspired Her Denim Line
Sofia Vergara probably didn’t have the luxury of a large clothing budget growing up. Because many of her female family members still don’t and do their shopping at Walmart, she recognized the importance of making her designs affordable for the average consumer. So, Vergara partnered with the store and named her styles after her family members.
But while she loves all-things fashion now, her relationship with clothing wasn’t always so peachy growing up…
40. She Used To Hide In Her Clothes
Sofia Vergara may be a successful fashion designer today, but she used to find dressing herself a complicated endeavor. Just as someone might be body-shamed for being a larger size, women and men alike can also face ridicule for being too small, and Vergara was incredibly self-conscious of her tiny frame when she was younger. So much so that she used to wear two pairs of jeans to make herself appear larger.
41. She’s Business Savvy
Okay. So apparently, Vergara is a hyper-talent with brains as well as beauty. In addition to modeling, acting, and designing her own fashion line, she’s also a business mogul. Vergara co-founded a multimillion-dollar media empire called LatinWe (Latin World Entertainment Holdings Inc.), a hugely successful multiservice company that (among other things) focuses on representing Hispanic talent in the industry—herself included. Dang, girl.
42. She Knows Talent
She’s judgey…but not in a mean way. In 2020, the ever-busy Vergara joined Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel as a judge on America’s Got Talent for the show’s 15th season. Let’s face it: she was probably more than qualified. She already had a pretty well-rounded resumé from all her modeling, singing, acting, designing, and business(ing). Why not judge a talent show, too?
43. She Helped Save A Kid’s Life
A desperate family in Colombia once contacted Vergara because they needed help providing the required aftercare for a boy who urgently needed a bone marrow transplant—and her reaction was extraordinary. Thanks to her connections at St. Jude’s, the boy and his family got transported to the hospital just one week later, where he received the necessary care. Vergara can now officially add “hero” to her list of accomplishments.
44. She Married A Second Joe
Following a six-month whirlwind romance, Sofia Vergara got engaged to hunky actor Joe Manganiello on Christmas Day in 2014. Less than a year later, they tied the knot on November 21, 2015, in Palm Beach, Florida. The couple had only dated for six months prior, but who’s to say how much time is right? They seem happy together, and let’s be real: between the two “Joes,” Vergara almost certainly traded up—sorry, First Joe.
45. Her Wedding March Was Unconventional
Every wedding is different. Vergara’s soon-to-be husband, Joe Manganiello, hired some violinists and cellists to play the wedding march for the couple’s walk down the aisle together. That in itself isn’t unusual, but there was a bizarre twist. He hired them to play an acoustic version of “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.
To be honest, that sounds pretty awesome.
46. She’s Been Engaged Three Times
It’s probably fair to say that Sofia Vergara isn’t the kind of woman who would lack for suitors, and in between her marriages to the two Joes, it turns out there was once a Nick. In 2012, Vergara and her then-boyfriend, Nick Loeb, became engaged following a two-year relationship together. However, on May 23, 2014, Vergara revealed that the pair no longer planned to say “I do.”
47. Her Ex Took Tried To Sue Her
Sofia Vergara once found herself stuck in a bizarre dispute with her former fiancé, Nick Loeb. It was over two fertilized embryos the couple had created together via in vitro fertilization, kept in cryopreservation at a Californian medical clinic. Following the couple’s split, Loeb tried unsuccessfully to sue Vergara in a California court for custody of them.
Fortunately for her, the lawsuit got dropped after the court asked Loeb a bombshell question. Lawyers wanted him to identify two women who obtained abortions after he’d impregnated them. But unbelievably, this wasn’t the end of her troubles with the embryos…
48. Her Ex Found A Loophole
Loeb tried to fight Vergara again for their embryos—only this time he did it through the Louisiana court system because the state considers all embryos to be “judicial persons.” This meant that her embryos, now named “Emma” and “Isabella,” had the right to initiate a right-to-live lawsuit against her. Yikes! But Vergara firmly stood her ground.
49. She Won The Fight…Kind Of
The lawsuit’s ultimate purpose was to void a contract signed by Vergara and Loeb, which stipulated that neither party had the right to use the embryos without the other’s consent. Furthermore, Loeb wanted Vergara’s parental rights to the embryos terminated on the grounds of abandonment and neglect. Really, dude?
Fortunately, the court dismissed the case—all for a bizarre reason. It was only because the former couple conceived the embryos in California, which meant that the Louisiana court system had no jurisdiction over them. Crazy.
50. The Battle Is Over
Recently, a judge made a final ruling on Nick Loeb’s case against Sofia Vergara. They ruled that Loeb absolutely cannot use the frozen embryos without Vergara’s consent. This finally puts an end to Vergara’s ordeal, after nearly seven long years in and out of court.