×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sofia Vergara and Partner Luis Balaguer Cross Into U.S. Mainstream

To understand the Sofia Vergara of 2015, you have to start in 1998. More than a decade before “Modern Family” got its start, Vergara approached her business partner, Luis Balaguer, with an idea: a calendar. About a dozen photos later the two had created a product that really took off — especially among Hispanics living in the U.S. — and would ultimately launch Vergara’s career.

“It became a huge difference for us at the time, and financed many of our crazy dreams to move to Los Angeles, look for the American dream and crossover in Hollywood,” Balaguer says.

Vergara and Balaguer’s business venture, Latin World Entertainment, has been the premier Hispanic talent agency since its inception in 1994 when the U.S. Hispanic entertainment and television industry was in its infancy. Before LatinWE started, Balaguer says there were no managers or agents to mediate between talent and executives, so early negotiations were difficult. “You had to do what the network asked you, and if you didn’t, you would be fired,” he says.

LatinWE’s clients are protected and well-represented, he says. In addition to Vergara, the company represents some of the largest stars in Spanish-speaking television like Alejandra Espinoza who will host a new reality show on Univision called “La Banda,” and others who have crossed over to the general market like Rafael de La Fuente (“Empire”).

“We knew and understood the U.S. Hispanic market at that time,” he says. “And that’s what kept us going.”

The agency also formed sponsorship deals between talent and brands that could boost visibility and pull in additional revenue. Vergara, who is not only the founder, but also the agency’s most successful client, has amassed her fortune with a long list of endorsements including clothing, makeup and fragrance.

LatinWE’s ambition shows no signs of stopping. The company teamed up with Reese Witherspoon’s new shingle, Pacific Standard, to produce “Hot Pursuit,” (pictured) which bows May 8, with Vergara and Balaguer serving as executive producers. They are finalizing a multi-year project to launch a coffee blend and building Vergara’s brand overseas. Balaguer notes millions of Chinese watch “Modern Family” each week.

LatinWE’s mission has remained consistent since the company’s humble beginnings. “It’s about fixing the industry and making the industry better,” he says. “We showed them how big and rich and involved this market is.”

More TV

  • Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider office

    'The Other Two' Bosses on How 'SNL' Still Inspires Their Comedy

    “The Other Two” co-showrunners Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider split time between Los Angeles and New York because their writers’ room is on the West Coast where he lives, while production is back East where she lives. This means they are constantly packing and unpacking their office. But when they do settle into a new [...]

  • Netflix Recurring Actors

    How Netflix Created an Unintentional Repertory Company

    Taking a cue from the theater and the old Hollywood studio system, Netflix has built up an impressive stock company of actors since getting into original programming. But interestingly, it is more coincidence than intentional creation of a repertory company. The streaming giant does not have a dedicated casting department at the network level. Instead, [...]

  • Jimmy Fallon and Hasan Minhaj in

    Jimmy Fallon and Hasan Minhaj on When to Get Political in Late-Night

    Jimmy Fallon and Hasan Minhaj were like magnets when Variety brought them together in New York for a joint Q&A about late-night TV in the age of Trump. The two host very different shows — Fallon fronts NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” while Minhaj recently picked up a Peabody Award for his work on Netflix’s “Patriot [...]

  • NBC Sets Fall Premiere Dates for

    NBC Sets Fall Premiere Dates for 'This Is Us,' 'The Good Place' Final Season

    NBC is only adding three new shows to its schedule this fall, and the network has announced that all three are set to premiere the week of September 23. On Mondays, the Jimmy Smits-led courtroom drama “Bluff City Law” will follow “The Voice,” while on Thursdays, Bradley Whitford starrer “Perfect Harmony” and Kal Penn comedy [...]

  • At Home with Amy Sedaris Documentary

    Amy Sedaris, Fred Armisen on the Art of Creating Short-Term Characters

    Few disciplines are as tough to shine in as sketch comedy. Often, being funny isn’t often enough. What makes a sketch resonate comes down to the characters. But while sitcoms build arcs over seasons, short skits require viewers to buy into new characters constantly. It’s a tricky art. For decades, “Saturday Night Live” has blended [...]

  • Desus and Mero Samantha Bee

    How Late-Night Talk Shows Avoid Political Burnout

    It may feel like late-night talk shows often overwhelmingly consist of a barrage of recounts of the most recent, or most polarizing, political headlines or tweets. It’s a subject matter that can’t, and perhaps shouldn’t, be avoided, given the changing state of local laws when it comes to health care, that families are literally being [...]

  • CBS to Launch DABL Digital Lifestyle

    CBS to Launch DABL Digital Lifestyle Channel in September

    CBS is moving into the lifestyle channel arena with the launch of DABL, a digital multicast network set to launch in September through its CBS Television Distribution unit. CBS has acquired a raft of programming from the vaults of Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse to help fill out the channel devoted to what it described [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content