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

  • Harley Quinn DC Universe

    4 Things We Learned at TCA 2019: Day 1

    The 2019 Television Critics Association summer press tour kicked off on Tuesday with presentations from DC Universe, A+E Networks, and Nat Geo. DC Universe, the DC-branded streaming service, brought their adult animated series based on “Harley Quinn,” while A+E brought along a range of projects from across their portfolio. It was also announced that A+E [...]

  • The Boys Amazon Prime

    TV News Roundup: Amazon Drops 'The Boys' Final Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, USA releases the trailer for the second season of “The Purge” and Amazon drops the final trailer before “The Boys” launches.  RENEWALS Viceland has renewed the pro wrestling docu-series “Dark Side of the Ring” for a second season. The upcoming season will feature 10 hour-long episodes chronicling the lives of wrestlers inside [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    WGA West Unveils Candidates for Election That Reflects Discord Over Agency Campaign

    The WGA West has unveiled the slate of candidates for officer posts and board seats in the election that reflects the divisions among members over the guild’s handling of the campaign to reform its rules governing talent agents. Scribes Phyllis Nagy (“Carol”) and William Schmidt (“Yellowstone”) are set to challenge David Goodman for the president’s [...]

  • The Code CBS

    'The Code' Canceled After One Season on CBS

    Freshman military drama “The Code” is officially done at CBS. The news comes just one day after the show’s season finale, which will now serve as the show’s series finale. “Thank you to all you wonderful people who watched [‘The Code’],” series star Dana Delany wrote on Twitter. “Last night was our finale and sadly, [...]

  • Matt Tolmach'Venom' film premiere, Arrivals, Los

    Amazon to Develop Human IPO Series With Matt Tolmach Producing

    Amazon is developing a series inspired by the true story of a man who sold shares of himself to investors, Variety has learned. In a competitive situation, Amazon has landed the project, titled “JNNA.” It is described as a half-hour comedy about the next big investment craze — humans. It is inspired by Mike Merrill, [...]

  • Olympics

    NBCUniversal Projects More Than $1.2 Billion in Ad Sales for 2020 Olympics

    NBCUniversal projected it would sell more than $1.2 billion in advertising for its 17 days of broadcasts of the 2020 Olympics from Tokyo, citing the event as a rare opportunity for Madison Avenue to reach big audiences without the worry of politics getting in the way of a commercial message. The Olympics is “one of [...]

  • R Kelly Sexual Assult Accusations Mugshot

    'Surviving R. Kelly' Follow Up, Jeffrey Epstein Docuseries in the Works at Lifetime

    Lifetime is working on a follow up to the hit docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” and a new docuseries about Jeffrey Epstein. Rob Sharenow, president of programming for A+E Networks, made the announcements at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Tuesday. “The Aftermath” will be a four-part series featuring interviews with new survivors, psychologists, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content