While taking a stroll on a Colombian beach, 17-year-old Vergara is spotted by a modeling scout and drops out of dentistry school to pursue a career in entertainment. She soon lands several gigs, including a starring role in a Pepsi commercial.
At 18, Vergara marries high school sweetheart Joe Gonzalez and welcomes son Manolo two years later. But in 1993, the couple calls it quits. "My life as a mother has been hard, but not a nightmare," she tells Florida's Sun-Sentinel of single motherhood. "I do like all working moms do. No life is perfect. What I do, it's part of life."
After Vergara's older brother Rafael is murdered in Bogotá, she and her family relocate to Miami, where Vergara becomes a star as host of Univision's Spanish-language game show A que no te atreves ("I Dare You"). "I will always be grateful to Univision for giving me my start," she tells the Miami Herald. "Nobody knew me before I started working [there]. But there are a lot of offers now and I want to move on. This is the time."