America Ferrera: Snapshot

Name
America Ferrera
Date of Birth
April 18, 1984
Birth Place
Los Angeles, Calif.
Ugly has never been this beautiful! As bushy-browed brace face Betty Suarez on ABC's Ugly Betty, America Ferrera charmed audiences, made the endearingly hilarious series a must-see hit, and turned herself into a Golden Globe, SAG and Emmy Award-winning star.

The sixth and youngest child of Honduran immigrants, Ferrera got her big break in HBO's Sundance darling, Real Women Have Curves, at age 16. Her breakthrough performance helped her land the teen girlfriend hit The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants before her Betty fame.

Ferrera, who married longtime boyfriend Ryan Piers Williams in 2011, was saluted by Congress for providing a role model for young Latinas, while landing on PEOPLE's Most Beautiful and Time's Most Influential lists.

America Ferrera: Five Fun Facts

  1. Bette Midler is "the sole reason I wanted to be an actress," America Ferrera told Variety. "When I was 10 years old, I used to repeatedly watch the TV version of Gypsy."
  2. If America Ferrera ruled the world, she told Entertainment Weekly, "Ugg boots and miniskirts [together] would never have existed. It makes me so mad. Ugg boots are for when it's cold; miniskirts are for when it's hot. It just doesn't make sense!"
  3. Salma Hayek convinced America Ferrera to star in Ugly Betty when they met during a 2002 taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  4. America Ferrera's husband Ryan Piers Williams said he let Ferrera put mascara on his lashes. "He has the longest eyelashes, but they're blond at the tips, and I just wanted to see what it would look like," she explained to W in 2007.
  5. In order to play lifelong friends in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, America Ferrera and her costars Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively and Amber Tamblyn were sent shopping. "[The director] gave us $75 each, Canadian dollars, and dropped us off at a vintage shop," she told the Los Angeles Times. "This was our rehearsal. 'I want you guys to shop together'."

America Ferrera: Biography

2002

America Ferrera

Using Her Curves

In HBO's Real Women Have Curves, Ferrera plays Ana Garcia, a first-generation Mexican American who wants to go to college instead of work at her family's sewing business. She earns a Sundance Jury Award for Best Actress in the cross-cultural drama/comedy that deals with, among other issues, body image. "There are not many Latin-American role models in the entertainment business," Ferrera tells USA Today. "All I had was Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek as role models, but I don't look anything like them."

2005

America Ferrera

June 01

Traveling Pants

Ferrera scores a starring role in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, with Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively and Amber Tamblyn (left). The film based on Ann Brashares' best-selling teen novel centers around lifelong friends who spend their first summer apart, but connect by shipping a pair of jeans to each other. In 2007, Ferrera reprises her role as the intelligent Carmen for the 2008 Traveling Pants sequel.

2006

America Ferrera

September 28

Becoming Ugly

Ferrara, 22, dons bushy eyebrows, snap-on braces and frumpy frocks to play Betty Suarez, a less-than-attractive fashion magazine assistant with a heart of gold, in ABC's Ugly Betty. The show is based of the popular Columbian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty Le Fea, brought to the states by executive producer and former Mexican telenovela star, Salma Hayek. "For me, it's fine if Betty never morphs into the beautiful swan," Ferrera tells New York Magazine, "I think she's lovable as is. She is the most beautiful character on the show."

Read More on America Ferrera's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Myriam Santos-Kayda / Retna

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): HBO; Warner Bros.; Eric Liebowitz/ABC/AP

Edited by Julia Wang

America Ferrera

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