"It wasn’t easy, but as a kid you find ways to make sense of it." Ferrera, 23, told British Marie Claire for its December issue. "I remember just bits and pieces of that time in my life, but I do remember being so incredibly matter-of-fact."
Posing for a set of sultry black and white pictures – sans Betty's braces and bushy eyebrows (check them out here) – she added, "It wasn't until I was older that I thought, 'Damn, I never really grieved over that.' And there have been male figures in my life who provided that kind of fatherhood for longer than he was ever in my life."
Courtesy Marie Claire UK
"My family never lied about the fact that we didn't have a lot," she said. "You just kind of have to play the cards you're dealt."
Her heritage also means she can relate to Betty Suarez, the character she plays in Ugly Betty.
"It feels good to be a part of a show that means more to people than just entertainment, and which confronts a lot of issues, like the portrayal of a Latin family with a father struggling for citizenship," Ferrera said.
"Many people kind of see it as a pioneer show for their cause. Ugly Betty addresses these serious issues with humor, and that's the easiest way to make people listen as opposed to being preachy and shoving it down their throats."