“Never take no personally. Sometimes people tell you no for a reason that has nothing to do with you. You must keep going.
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize the scientific, economic, cultural, political, and social contributions of influential immigrants and refugees who’ve helped shape the vibrant tapestry of America. Today, we focus on Colombian-American actress and model Sofia Vergara.
Sofia Margarita Vergara was born in Barranquilla, Columbia, on July 10, 1972, to parents Margarita and Julio Enrique Vergara. She married her high school sweetheart, Joe Gonzalez, at age 18. The two had a son, Manolo, in 1992 before divorcing in 1993. Vergara learned English in Elementary school and later enrolled at Colombia University to study Dentistry. She left school after being discovered by a photographer on a beach vacation.
Vergara soon found her first screen work in a Pepsi commercial that aired in Latin markets. She went on to modeling and studied acting, eventually starring in Telenovelas (Spanish Soap Operas). Just as her career was blossoming, Vergara suffered tragedy. Her older brother was murdered in a failed kidnap attempt. With increasing chaos in Colombia, she decided to immigrate to the U.S. to pursue more opportunities, settling in Miami, Florida.
In the U.S., Vergara instantly rose to stardom, landing roles across a broad spectrum, including starring in Univision, the Unites States’ largest provider of Spanish-language television. But she is most known for her Emmy-nominated role on Modern Family as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, a much younger wife to television husband Jay Pritchett. On the show, her character has a son from a previous marriage named Manny, mirroring her real-life immigration story. The untraditional family norms of the show made it a hit, running for 11 seasons (2009 – 2011).
Vergara’s mission to inspire both women and Hispanic immigrants led to her engagement with a multitude of philanthropic efforts. They include the BeLive Gala to raise money for Columbian non-profits, campaigns for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and contributions to Follow the Script to support people living with Thyroid cancer, a disease she survived.
Vergara became an American citizen in 2014. She was also recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame later that year.
Others we are celebrating in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month:
Franklin Chang-Díaz, astronaut/scientist from Costa Rica
Oscar de la Renta, fashion designer from the Dominican Republic
Jorge Ramos, newscaster from Mexico
Carlos Santana, musician from Mexico