America Georgine Ferrera is an American actress who became a star with her title role in the popular television series ‘Ugly Betty’. Interested in acting since she was in school, she performed in several school stage productions and came into prominence with her debut film, ‘Real Women Have Curves’. While her performance in ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ gained her more recognition, she won critical acclaim for portraying the protagonist in the television series ‘Ugly Betty’, which garnered her a number of Best Actress Awards, including the Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Primetime Emmy Award. The unique role in ‘Ugly Betty’ and her subsequent roles thereafter made her a "role model" for the young Hispanic women in the entertainment industry, and Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis congratulated her for the same. Ferrera was dubbed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007 by Time magazine. An ardent supporter of ‘Save the Children’ campaign, she is also an ambassador for it. As part of her social work, she traveled to India to meet the children of sex workers and raise awareness against sex trafficking.
Childhood & Early Life
America Georgine Ferrera was born on April 18, 1984, in Los Angeles, California, to América Griselda Ayes and Carlos Gregorio. She has five elder siblings. Her Honduran parents, who had migrated to the USA in the mid-1970s, were originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Her mother was the director of housekeeping, in one of the Hilton Hotels. America was just seven when her parents divorced, and her father returned to Honduras. He died there in 2010. Ferrera was not close to her father and was estranged from him at the time of his death.
As a young girl she disliked her first name and preferred that people call her by her middle name, ‘Georgine’.
She grew up with her siblings in the Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. She studied in Calabash Street Elementary School and later went to George Ellery Hale Middle School before shifting to El Camino Real High School, where she took acting lessons and did odd jobs to pay her fees.
She became interested in acting when she was very young, and landed a small role in a school play ‘Hamlet’ at the age of seven. When she was ten, she played the role of Artful Dodger in ‘Oliver!’ When Ferrera was in her third grade, she performed in the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and that was when she realized that she would pursue a career in acting.
Despite discouragement from her mother who did not think acting was the ideal career for her, Ferrera continued performing in school plays and community theatres in Los Angeles throughout her youth.
She attended the University of Southern California on a presidential scholarship, and double majored in theatre and international relations. It took her ten years to complete her graduation in May 2013.
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Early in her career, America Ferrera took up small roles in films like the television movie ‘Gotta Kick It Up!’ in 2002. That year, during a theatre program at the Northwestern University, she made her feature film debut in ‘Real Women Have Curves’.
In 2005, she starred in the film ‘Lords of Dogtown’, and ‘How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer’, where she portrayed Bianca, a 17-year-old third-generation Mexican-American girl. The same year, she was featured in ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ and won a best actress award and her first nomination at the ALMA Awards.
She was then cast in the Off-Broadway play ‘Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead’, directed by Trip Cullman.
In 2006, she landed the lead role in the comedy TV series ‘Ugly Betty’, which she continued playing till 2010. ‘Ugly Betty’ brought her major success and enhanced her status in the entertainment industry. She became a star thereafter.
Riding on her success, she appeared in some notable films like ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2’ in 2008, ‘The Dry Land’, and the romantic comedy ‘Our Family Wedding’ in 2010.
In 2011, for the first time in her career, she performed on the stage in London, where she played Roxie Hart in the musical ‘Chicago in London's West End’.
In 2012, she was cast in a documentary film ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide’, which showed women living in difficult circumstances and struggling to overcome them. That year, she was also featured in the crime drama ‘End of Watch’, and in the dark comedy ‘It's a Disaster’.
The ABC network cast her in a serial drama ‘Pedro & Maria’, a modern-day depiction of Romeo and Juliet, in 2013. The series, however, was never aired.
She portrayed the main character Amy, a veteran floor supervisor at a superstore, in the 2015 NBC sitcom ‘Superstore’. She also handled its co-production functions.
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In November 2017, it was announced that Ferrera and ‘Ugly Betty’ executive producer Teri Weinberg have partnered to launch a new production company, which is yet to be named. They have already signed a deal with Universal TV for a legal drama, written by Sunil Nayar. The project focuses on a Sikh woman and a law student, who work together in a student-run law firm, and give voice to the voiceless.
America Ferrera’s performance in the HBO film ‘Real Women Have Curves’ earned her numerous accolades and awards. In 2005, she tasted major success for ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’, which garnered her several awards and nominations.
For her brilliant performance in ‘Ugly Betty’, Ferrera was congratulated by Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis for "helping to break down stereotypes and provide a role model for young Latinas".
Awards & Achievements
In 2002, America Ferrera won the Special Jury Prize: Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival.
She earned the Imagen Award for Best Actress for ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ in 2006.
In 2007 she won the ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in Television Series for ‘Ugly Betty’ and also the Satellite Award, Golden Globe Award, Primetime Emmy Award, and Imagen Award for the same. She continued to win awards in 2008 and 2009 for ‘Ugly Betty’.
In 2011, she won the Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ Best Actress-Animated Female Film for ‘How to Train Your Dragon.’
In 2017, she received the Gracie Award in the category of Actress in a Leading Role – Comedy or Musical, for ‘Superstore’.
America Ferrera met her future husband, actor and director Ryan Piers Williams, at the University of Southern California; he had cast her in a student film. They got engaged in June 2010, and married on June 27, 2011.
Having a keen interest in politics, she attended the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and supported President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Her involvement with the organization Voto Latino helped her to get Latinos in the US to cast their vote. She also spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and was the opening speaker for the Women's March in Washington in January 2017.
She is an ambassador for ‘Save the Children’, and traveled to India to meet the children of sex workers and spread awareness about the destructions caused by sex trafficking.
In a tweet in October 2017, she revealed that she was sexually assaulted when she was a nine-year-old. She called upon her fellow women and urged them to speak out so that “the next generation of girls won't have to live with this bullshit."