×

America Ferrera Recalls ‘Ugly Betty’ Emmy Win, Breaking Ground for Latinas

America fell in love with “Ugly Betty,” and fresh-faced star America Ferrera, the moment the snappy dramedy debuted in 2006. And that was just the beginning of a charmed ride for Ferrera, who went on to take the TV acting kudos “triple crown” — the Golden Globe, the SAG Award and the Emmy — in 2007. Now toplining NBC’s successful half-hour “Superstore,” Ferrera looks back at her groundbreaking Emmy victory.

What do you remember about the night you won the Emmy?
I remember there was a strange seating arrangement where the audience was in the round and my cast and everyone from the show was seated right behind the podium. We were on camera the entire time. People kept texting us, like “don’t pick your nose” or “don’t look at your phone, we can see you.” That was a little stressful. I remember when they called my name and I walked up to the podium I wanted to be able to look at my cast, but they were behind me. I don’t think they’ve ever gone back to that seating arrangement, I think they realized there were a lot of problems with it.

It was already a big year for you, did you have any expectations to win?
That was definitely an expectation after the Golden Globe and the SAG Award and I’d been nominated for the Emmy. I knew it was in the realm of possibility that I could win. But anything’s possible in the moment. When I did win, it was very, very surreal. I also remember the feeling of really, really quickly wanting to get off the stage. Because I had won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award there was a little bit of “people are probably really sick at this point of hearing me gush about how honored I am.”

What did it mean for “Ugly Betty”?
For me the most exciting thing after every award show was on Monday morning I had to be on set. I had a job to do, I had a cast and crew to collaborate with who I loved. We were making this show we were all so proud of and I got to play this dream role. I think when you get the recognition for something you truly love and believe in, it’s always sweeter. The show was a bit of an underdog. It was something that had never been on television before. To get that overwhelming response — it wasn’t obvious from the outset that it was going to be received the way that we loved it so much.

Beyond the Emmy, how did “Ugly Betty” change your life?
In a practical sense it changed in every way. I was working very, very, very long hours. All I did was work. I was on set and I loved it, but it was the most grueling challenging schedule I’d ever had. When I wasn’t on set filming I was doing photo shoots or flying across the country to do talk shows and doing events and award shows. It was constant, every day of the week I was working. I’m someone who loves sleep, I was very, very sleep deprived for those first couple of years on the show. For all four years I was sleep deprived.

I’ve never had to work that hard and that much and I wasn’t doing things like that ever before in my life. In the sense of what changed in my life is I was removed from my life for a long time, seeing my friends and my family, being present for birthday dinners and holiday, all of that became work was the number one priority and I stepped out of my own life for awhile while I was doing the show because it demanded so much of me.

You also broke ground as the first Latina lead actress Emmy winner.
I wasn’t even aware of it until after the fact, until other people brought it to my attention, that I was the first Latina to win the Emmy, which was not a big part of the story and I certainly didn’t even think of it that way. Looking back and thinking, “Oh wow, that barrier was broken when I won,” that’s really special and regardless of what happens that can never be undone. I was so in a bubble that I wasn’t even aware of what that moment meant in a larger context for women like me in the industry.

More TV

  • Bob GreenblattCreating Great Characters: Dick Wolf

    Bob Greenblatt on WarnerMedia Streaming Strategy: 'The Assets are Undeniable'

    CANNES — AT&T is ready for battle in the streaming wars. The new parent company of HBO and Warner Bros. has moved quickly to respond to consumer demand by marshaling its forces behind the launch next spring of HBO Max, WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told a crowd of international TV and digital executives here [...]

  • Roberto Gomez Bolanos Mexican actor Roberto

    Chespirito Media Universe in Development from Grupo Chespirito, Thr3 Media Group

    Mexican production companies Grupo Chespirito and Thr3 Media Group have come to terms on a deal to co-produce multi-media content and create the Chespirito Media Universe based on the characters and world of Mexico and Latin America’s most iconic TV creator, director, producer and actor, Chespirito. Thr3 Media Group was launched in January 2018 by [...]

  • Bastian-and-Fabienne_2btube-Office-1

    2btube Adds Lacoproductora to Facebook, YouTube Originals Alliances

    CANNES —  Fast-driving from a huge digital media publishing base into the creation and production of premium content for global platforms and beyond, top Spanish-language digital native media group 2btube has clinched a wide-ranging production partnership with José Miguel Contreras’ Madrid-based Lacoproductora. The deal comes fast on the heels of 2btube’s production alliance with Facebook [...]

  • LA-CHICA-QUE-LIMPIA-PICTURE

    Spain's Fasten Films Nabs Remake Rights to Argentine Series 'The Cleaning Lady' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Barcelona-based company Fasten Films has optioned Spanish and Portuguese adaptation rights to Argentine suspense series “La chica que limpia” (“The Cleaning Lady”). The deal was negotiated with Argentine distributors RM Vistar and GlowStar, who jointly handle the format’s international sales. A Mexican remake of the series is being produced by Turner Latin America, alongside BTF [...]

  • Motiv: Max ConzeFoto: © ProSiebenSat.1/Martin SaumweberDieses

    ProSiebenSat.1 Boss Max Conze Unfazed By the Invasion of the Digital Streaming Giants

    Max Conze, CEO of German broadcast company ProSiebenSat.1 since June last year, appeared relatively relaxed about the prospect of the coming invasion of new subscription streaming players like Disney Plus into his territory when speaking to journalists at TV market and conference Mipcom in Cannes Tuesday. “Disney will not lock away all their content,” he [...]

  • Irmaos Freitas

    Amazon Prime Video takes Turner’s ‘Freitas Brothers’

    CANNES — In yet another – and significant – Latin America distribution deal for the now highly active OTT giant, Amazon Prime Video has acquired Brazilian and pan-Spanish-speaking Latin American SVOD rights to Turner Latin America’s highly anticipated “Freitas Brothers.” The announcement was made late Tuesday by Turner Latin America at Cannes Mipcom TV and [...]

  • Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker,

    Nonsense Ellen DeGeneres Question Derails an Otherwise Substantive Democratic Debate (Column)

    The fourth Democratic debate was dangerously close to being substantive. For almost three (3!) hours, the twelve (12!) candidates onstage tackled questions on foreign policy, reproductive rights, health care, gun control, big tech, and the opioid crisis. While the other debates — and indeed, the entire 2016 presidential campaign — have been marked by meme-able [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content