How SAG Stars Got Their Start: Sofia Vergara Credits Her 'Hooker Looks'

01/27/2013 AT 09:20 PM EST

Today, she's one of the world's sexiest stars. But Sofia Vergara wasn't quite as celebrated for her curves early in her career.

The Modern Family actress was among a handful of actors who kicked off Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards with personal stories about how they got started in the business. Vergara, 40, joked about her famous figure.

"I grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia, in a very traditional Catholic home," she said. "My father told me that if I ever did anything artistic, I was going to look like a hooker. I told him, 'With these huge boobs that I inherited from your mother, I already look like a hooker!' "

30 Rock's Jane Krakowski had a little fun with Hollywood's reputation for having no use for aging women. At 12 years old, she said, she played Chevy Chase's niece in National Lampoon's Vacation. Krakowski, 44, added: "Today, I would be cast as his wife. In two years, I will play his mother."

Helen Hunt detailed the crazy variety of her roles – "I've played a waitress, a cuckoo clock, a quarterback and a sex surrogate" – while Alfre Woodard said she was surprised she became an actor at all, since she always had trouble remembering people's names.

Chris Tucker said he became "fascinated with the art" as a 9-year-old when he saw Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy.

For Hal Holbrook, the inspiration was simpler. He was lazy – and acting class didn't give you homework.

How They Officially Joined the Club

Other stars reflected specifically on the moment they got their SAG cards – a momentous moment for many, including Anne Hathaway, who mentioned it at the beginning of her speech in accepting the best supporting actress honor for her role in Les Misérables.

"I got my SAG card when I was 14," she said. "It felt like the beginning of the world. I have loved every single minute of my life as an actor. And I have been the recipient of so much kindness and support from actors in this room and out of it. ... Thank you for this award."

Jennifer Lawrence also mentioned getting a SAG card in her acceptance speech, when she won best actress for Silver Linings Playbook. Like Hathaway, Lawrence – who is now 22 – was 14 at the time.

"I want to thank MTV," she said. "I did an MTV promo for My Super Sweet 16. And I remember getting [the card] in the mail and it being the best day of my entire life because it officially made me a professional actor. Which put me in a category with all of you."

"And now I have this naked statue that means that some of you even voted for me," she added.

Like many actors, Twilight's Peter Facinelli and Modern Family's Ty Burrell both got their SAG cards working on Law & Order.

Facinelli, talking on the red carpet, said he dropped out of college after that. "I ran into [Law & Order creator] Dick Wolf. ... I said, 'I didn't get my diploma because of you, but I got my SAG card because of you." But, Facinelli doesn't regret not finishing school: "I was majoring in theater. It all worked out."

Burrell says he was "unmemorable" on the crime show, which allowed him to play different roles on different episodes. "Nobody noticed that now I was playing an assassin," he joked.
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