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From Gloria to Griselda: Sofia Vergara’s best performances in TV and film

The Colombian actress got rave reviews for her most recent role portraying notorious drug-dealer Griselda Blanco, but she has left some memorable performances throughout her career

Griselda Blanco, narcotraficante interpretada por Sofía Vergara
Sofía Vergara as Griselda in the eponymous TV miniseries.NETFLIX

Sofia Vergara’s first TV job was in a now iconic Pepsi commercial in 1989 that aired in Latin America, which led to her becoming one of Colombia’s most famous models. During the 1990s, she hosted several shows, became a public personality, and even appeared in a few Mexican telenovelas, before departing towards the U.S., looking to get into the English-speaking market.

After more than a decade of small roles, Vergara auditioned for Modern Family, a mockumentary-type show, which would become one of the biggest TV hits of the 2010s, and led to her becoming one of the highest-paid actresses in America. As she enters a new era of her career, we revisit some of her best work to date, including her most recent show, Griselda.

The Knights of Prosperity (2007)

Before finding success, Vergara starred in this sitcom created by Letterman writers Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman (also responsible for the ABC comedy-drama Ed) where she plays a woman who joins a group of misfits that decide to rob different celebrities. The program was one of the firsts where the actress displayed her comedic chops, which she would later use in Modern Family.

The show was risky at the time, it had a multi-ethnic cast, racial jokes, a challenging premise and it depended on celebrity cameos. This led to its cancellation after just one season. However, it still managed to gain a small cult following.

Modern Family (2009-2020)

Sofia VergaraSofía Vergara became the highest-paid TV actress during her run on Modern Family, playing the now-iconic Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, an American housewife who was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. The character is best known for her mispronunciation of English words or phrases. This has led to some criticizing the show. However, Vergara has defended the character saying: “It upsets me when Latinos complain about Gloria. I am grateful for the opportunity because the gringos have let me in with this strong accent I have. Eight years ago, nobody had an accent like this on television”. She also admitted that the character is inspired by women in her family, and that some of the pronunciation jokes were improvised by her, which is also a display of her natural comedic talent.

Her performance led to her being nominated for four Golden Globe Awards and four Emmy Awards.

Machete Kills (2013)

Although this sequel to the 2010 film wasn’t as well received by critics, Robert Rodriguez’s fans consider it a must-see only because it keeps the Machete legend alive with new characters and a crazier set up with several well-known personalities like Mel Gibson, Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas and Sofía Vergara, who plays brothel madam Desdemona, who unleashes hell on Machete Cortez.

In this unique kind of role, Vergara’s performance shines and fits perfectly with the B-Movie type of vibe that Rodriguez established. “I had an amazing time. I was shooting and jumping and driving. I saw little parts of things and my face is fierce (sic)! Like when I’m screaming and killing someone, I’m really crazy”, she told Total Film during the film’s press tour.

Fading Gigolo (2013)

The fourth film directed and written by John Tuturro presents an interesting story about a man who decides to become a professional sex worker to help his struggling friend (played by Woody Allen in one of his best last roles on screen). Vergara offers a nuanced performance playing a woman who at first seems to be only interested in exploring her sexuality, but who develops as a complex character throughout the film.

Tuturro is influenced by Allen’s work, and although Fading Gigolo doesn’t get to the same level of comedy, it’s still worth seeing it because of the main cast performances.

Chef (2014)

When Joe Favreau started production on his cuisine oriented film Chef, he only had one choice to play the main’s character’s wife. “Sofía was somebody who I didn’t know personally, but as I wrote the role it was very clear that I don’t know who else it could have been. She was definitely my first choice”.

The film (also directed and starred by Favreau) follows a respected chef who decides to open a food truck. Vergara plays a caring and understanding ex-wife whose goal is to make her kid happy by helping the main character achieve his dream, which makes her more compelling compared to the classic Hollywood “nagging” ex-wife role.

Griselda (2024)

This miniseries follows the life of Griselda Blanco, a well-known Colombian drug lord who operated in Miami’s underworld during the 1980s, played by Sofia Vergara in what could be her most challenging role. “She worked almost every day, on very emotional scenes”, said co-creator and producer Eric Newman to EL PAÍS. “I was worried about the stress she had to deal with. But she did it with an admirable spirit and resilience.” Before its release, the show got rave reviews from the critics who highlighted Vergara’s performance as the best of her career.

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