Here’s Why Sofia Vergara is the Highest-Paid Actress on TV

If you don’t recognize Sofia Vergara, you probably haven’t ever turned on a TV in the United States, because if you have, the actress is everywhere. She rose to fame on the hit sitcom, “Modern Family,” which was on the air for more than ten years until earlier in 2020.
Getty Images Photo by David Klein
Getty Images Photo by David Klein
Before that, and during the show, she also did many spokes modeling jobs for various brands. But what is it that’s contributed to Sofia Vergara being the highest-paid star on American television?

It Wasn’t Always Glamorous

Sofia Vergara is literally the highest-paid actress in the free world as of 2020, but she had to go through a lot to get to where she is today. And, to the victor go the spoils, which is evident by the numerous major awards she’s been up for over the years.

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For her time as Gloria on “Modern Family,” she’s been nominated for four Golden Globes and four Emmys. But she didn’t always live such a lavish lifestyle.

Manny’s Mom

On “Modern Family,” Sofia Vergara plays Manny’s mom, Gloria, wife to closet/dog-bed salesman, Jay Pritchett. Her easy-going and hilarious personality combined with gorgeous looks make her a favorite character on the show – although the show is full of great characters and lots of laughs if you haven’t seen it!

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But she had to travel a long, hard road to become one of the highest-paid television actresses in Hollywood. Things weren’t always sunshine and smiles for her…

Colombia’s Golden Gate

The actress was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, which is known as Colombia’s Golden Gate and famous for its Carnival celebration. Locals refer to themselves as “quilleros” and have a lot of pride in their port city.

 

Vergara is no different and is proud to call Barranquilla her hometown. It’s where she went to a Catholic school that would have a huge impact on her life. But life in Colombia can be dangerous at times, as she would unfortunately learn.

A Humble Upbringing

Growing up, she was raised by her mother, a stay-at-home mom, and her father, a cattle rancher, on their family farm in Colombia. She lived with her parents and four siblings, along with an array of different animals.

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But as she grew older, others began to take notice of her appearance, and she was asked to begin modeling. In the ‘90s, she decided to make her way to the U.S to live the American dream – and that’s exactly what she did.

She Could Have Been a Dentist?

It’s kind of hard to imagine Sofia Vergara working your everyday 9-5 job. Take, for instance, your local dentist’s office. She almost went that route before winding up in Hollywood, and she even spent three years studying in dental school back in Colombia.

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It’s no wonder she has perfect teeth – she should; she certainly knows how to care for them more than most people in the world! But before she would’ve graduated, life in her home country was flipped upside down, and she knew she had to make some changes in her life.

Tragedy in the Vergara Family

Moving to the United States wasn’t something that she was necessarily planning on, at least, not soon, at the time, but soon after she did, tragedy struck and changed everything. Sofia’s brother, Rafael, was just 27-years old in 1998 when he was shot in an attempted kidnapping.

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Since her family was well-known and successful in the area, it made them a prime target. Unfortunately, Rafael was killed and became a member of the infamous 27 Club.

One in a Million

One day, Sofia was walking along a beach in Colombia, as she’d done a million times before. But this day would be the one that changed her life forever. A photographer happened to scout her and introduce her to the world of modeling and TV work.

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Oftentimes, predators use this kind of scenario to lure people into dangerous (or at the least, scam) situations where they wind up having their money stolen or worse. But then, there are those one in a million times where one random encounter creates a world for you that you could never have even imagined.

Her Big Break

Sometimes, the prospect of becoming a model or celebrity drives you to jump right into things, but this wasn’t one of those times. The future star had some serious reservations about the gig, and she was worried about what those in her Catholic church and school were going to think about her.

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Luckily for her (and for everyone else), they gave her the go-head, and she was off to shoot her very first television commercial – a Colombian ad for Pepsi. Little did she know that was going to be the start of a new life for her.

The Pepsi Ad & Purple Bikini

The actress’s first modeling gig shows her lying in the middle of a crowded beach in a tank top and denim shorts when she spots a Pepsi cart about a hundred feet away from her.

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Wanting to quench her thirst and cool down, she peels off her coverups until she’s down to a purple bikini. Want to check it out? Just head to YouTube.

The Perfect Spokesmodel

Vergara has come a long way since her first Pepsi ad (which she did when she was just 17-years old, by the way!) Now, she’s literally the highest-paid actress on American television, and brands can’t get enough of her as a spokesmodel.

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Recently, she appeared in a crossover P&G Bounty and Charmin ad for the Superbowl, in which one woman slips and falls, drops a giant bucket of chili, which someone flies upwards, hits the fan. Well – it goes everywhere – except on Sofia, thanks to another woman who jumps in front of her to protect her!

A True Trendsetter

These days, it’s hard to turn on the TV and get through a single show without seeing her face on some major ad. She’s worked with pretty much every major corporation on the planet And; it’s no wonder they keep asking her to be their spokesmodel.

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Executives have found beauty and comedy to make a devastating duo when pitching and selling products. Who doesn’t want to use the same kind of shampoo as Sofia Vergara? That’s what the people at Head and Shoulders thought, too.

Becoming a U.S Citizen

While she may originally be from Colombia, she’s now a citizen of the United States. The actress really knows her stuff when it comes to the U.S – probably more than most natives. During an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the actress revealed she went through the citizenship process and even scored a 100% on her test, which isn’t very common.

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“They give you like a hundred questions you have to learn, and then they give you a quiz, like a test,” she said. She first moved to the country back in the 1990s to pursue her career in modeling and entertainment.

Her Slow Beginning

Slowly making her mark in Hollywood, Vergara stunned on-screen as Sofi in the 2005 film, “Four Brothers.” Sofia plays the girlfriend of Angel Mercer, who stays with her boyfriend at his house.

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In the film, she helps the brothers plan and pulls off stunts, and talks to the cops for them.

In Big Trouble

Vergara may be most well-known for her sitcom work, but she’s done plenty of films and commercial work as well. Since 2002, she’s appeared in over 20 of them, starting with her role as Nina in 2002’s “Big Trouble.”

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Some of the other titles she’s done since then include “Soul Plane,” “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns,” “Madea Goes to Jail,” “The Smurfs,” “Machete Kills,” “Hot Pursuit,” “The Emoji Movie,” and, in 2019, “Bottom of the 9th.”

Vergara Time

In 2002, Miller Brewing Company signed Vergara on as their spokesperson for a fall ad campaign that revolved around a laid-back time with friends they referred to as “Miller Time.”

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The Milwaukee-based brand said that her image was a welcome addition to their own evolution around that time frame. “This is a wonderful opportunity to interact with the Hispanic community,” she said of the experience.

Becoming a Household Name

Before Vergara was a household name for her work on television worldwide, and right around the time she started to get her foot in the door with films like 2008’s “Meet The Browns,” she decided to try her hand at live performances via the stage.

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In 2009, she made her Broadway debut as Mama Morton on a five-week limited “Chicago” show. As you may already know, “Chicago” is the seventh longest-run production in the history of Broadway.

A Surprising Twist

While many actresses in Hollywood are spending the big bucks to fool the world into thinking they’re natural blondes, Sofia’s busy keeping her locks dark. Yep, that’s right, she was actually born blonde, and her locks are still light blonde to this day if she chooses not to dye them.

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Execs convinced her that to fill the role of the “Hollywood stereotype for a Latina woman,” said the star. Like Vergara, her siblings from Colombia were all born with golden lox as well. She said she went dark to make herself more marketable in the States.

Her Favorite Hobby

In a recent interview the actress did for “Shape” magazine, called “My Favorite Things,” she surprised everyone with one of her favorite hobbies The actress revealed that reading was her passion and that she “swears she doesn’t even know how to turn on her TV.”

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As for her favorite book, Sofia loves “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Getting Cast as Gloria

Vergara is probably most well-known for her work as Gloria on “Modern Family.” The show aired from 2009 until early 2020, when they announced that season 11 would be their last, much to fans’ dismay.

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But, they can only take family sitcoms so far until the kids are all grown up and everyone’s living in different areas. Hopefully, they come out with some spinoffs of the show that include some of our favorite characters – Gloria and her husband, Jay, for instance.

Her Modern Family

On “Modern Family,” Gloria is married to Jay Pritchett, and they live together in a nice home with her son Manny, who she has from a previous marriage. Jay is a closet (and dog bed) salesman, whose role is filled by Ed O’Neill. O’Neill has been a favorite in sitcoms since his breakthrough role as Al Bundy on the other hit show, “Married with Children,” which also happened to run for 11 seasons.

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Interesting how he’s progressed from selling shoes to selling walk-in closets and pineapple-shaped beds for dogs! Still, he’s much better off as Jay.

The Critically Acclaimed Show

The hit show, “Modern Family,” first graced TV screens in 2009 and opened to rave reviews. Audiences loved the quirky cast, and so did critics everywhere.

 

The show has been nominated for an outstanding number of awards during its eleven years on the air, including a whopping 80 Primetime Emmys! Of the 80 nominations, they took home an impressive 22 wins. They’ve also won a Golden Globe out of 12 nominations.

Crossing Over, Blending In

When the show premiered, it couldn’t have been at a better time. It was based on a large, blended family that consisted of people of different backgrounds, and people loved it. Sofia was making a transition from model to TV actress, and she couldn’t have done a better job crossing over.

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She was nominated for four Golden Globes and four Emmy awards for her work as Gloria Pritchett. When they announced that this year would be the show’s final year, it was a sad moment for fans.

Her On-Screen Son

On “Modern Family,” Sofia’s character, Gloria, has a son named Manny. Played by actor Rico Rodriguez, he’s a theatre buff who, unlike his dad, doesn’t have very much luck with the ladies.

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Rodriguez wrote a book that he released in 2012 called “Reel Life Lessons…So Far” – a fitting title for someone who just turned 22 earlier this year.

Her Sons, Manolo

On the show, her son’s name is Manny (Delgado), a nod to her actual son, Manolo’s, name. She and her ex had him when she was just 20-years old, just a couple of years after they’d originally tied the knot.

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Apparently, she chose to name him after a character in 1983’s hit gangster film, “Scarface.” It’s not that surprising; the film won several major awards, including three Golden Globes, one of which was for Best Supporting Actor for Steven Bauer’s role as Manny Ribera.

Considering Plastic Surgery

There was a certain point in time during her years in the business that she considered plastic surgery. Unlike most actresses, she planned to reduce the size of her chest, not enhance it.

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Vergara struggles with a size 32F, which can be very uncomfortable for her, causing her back issues. She still may revisit the procedure, saying, “yeah, eventually, I’m going to have to have it done.”

Her Sense of Style

Apparently, her wardrobe has a lot more effort behind it than meets the eye. Sure, she’s got a great sense of style, but according to the actress, there’s some kind of magic going on there.

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In one interview, she claimed her dresses were works of art due to the one-of-a-kind body being concealed beneath them. She wasn’t the only one who considered having the breast reduction, as when she started to rise in fame on TV, a publicist in Hollywood actually recommended it to her.

An Award-Winning Actress

If you go to look for Sofia’s list of accolades, you’ll be scrolling for a while once you find it. She’s been nominated for dozens of awards throughout her career, as well as won several.

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In four years on “Modern Family,” she was nominated for four Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture. That’s one per each year of her outstanding work on the show. It’s especially impressive, considering the show was only nominated for 12 awards during its time on the air.

Gracing the Big Screen

When 2011 rolled around, Vergara joined the cast of “New Year’s Eve,” a romantic comedy starring some huge names like Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, and of course, Jon Bon Jovi. She was pretty nervous when she learned she’d be on set working with the rock star.

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That’s because she’d had a crush on him for several years during her youth, so she was giddy like a schoolgirl. Of course, at that point, she was already becoming a household name herself, and the musician was just as excited to work with her!

The Face of Pepsi

She may have been just 17-years old when she found her big break in the form of a Pepsi commercial, but that wasn’t the only run-in that she would have with the soda giant. In 2012, she was chosen as the face of Pepsi.

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She appeared in a series of ad campaigns for the brand, one of which showed her drinking a Diet Pepsi on the beach, much like in her first ad for them. According to a recent interview, another shows her having fun in a nightclub – which she apparently really did while filming,

A Win for Colombia

In 2015 when Paulina Vega from Barranquilla, Colombia won the Miss Universe pageant, Sofia Vergara, along with Colombians everywhere, rejoiced. But there was another star who was particularly excited to see the win.

 

Popstar Shakira also hails from the same town as the Modern Family actress. “Congratulations to Paulina Vega,” she wrote on social media, “Barranquilla celebrates with you.”

The End of an Era

Modern Family made us laugh and cry for more than a decade during its stint on the air. But as we enjoyed the 2019-2020 season, they announced that it would be its final run (at least, as far as new episodes go.)

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Originally, they were actually set to end it after season 10, but it still had a little left to give. Although we’re sad to see it go, it gives all of the actors the chance to break free of their known personas on the show to go off in search of something different – which Sofia didn’t have any trouble doing!

A Hefty Paycheck

Although there’s probably going to be a lot she misses about the show, including sharing time with her on-set family, but one of the main things will likely be the paychecks.

 

During her time on “Modern Family,” she was getting paid a whopping $500,000 per episode, five days per week! Of course, that wasn’t her only source of income because the whole time, she was signing different endorsement deals with major brands. Still, she raked in an estimated $10 million per season.

Sofia’s Wild Income

Sofia is the highest-paid US television actress by a long shot. According to “Forbes,” she made more than $43 million this year – that’s nearly twice what the second-highest-paid TV actress, Kaley Cuoco, made. But it isn’t just TV stars that she’s got beat.

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Vergara made even more than film star Angelina Jolie, who earned around $31 million. And it’s easy to see why she’s making the big bucks if you follow her work on “Modern Family.”

The Biggest Honor

The actress was honored by The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in May of 2015 when they gave her her very own star on the Walk of Fame.

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“The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is proud to add some spice to the Walk of Fame by immortalizing Sofia Vergara’s fame onto our iconic walk,” said Ana Martinez, Producer of ceremonies on the WOF. Unfortunately, not everyone was as thrilled about the new addition to the walk.

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The June after Sofia’s star was added to the Walk of Fame in front of the Marshall’s Department Store, protesters decided to add some very unwelcome artwork to the face of it.

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After they’d already harassed her after hearing she’d frozen some of her embryos in hopes of future procreation with her ex-fiance, Nick Loeb, they took to the Walk, spraying her star with graffiti. The vandals even signed it with the name of their group, “#embryodefense.”

Vergara’s Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Was Destroyed

Vergara had a really rough year in 2015 when her Hollywood Walk of Fame star was destroyed by protesters, who also harassed her outside of a red-carpet premiere of “Magic Mike.”

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Luckily, when the co-founders of the group, #embryodefense, learned about the star’s vandalization, they removed it themselves, saying that they went to a drugstore across the street to buy some cleaner and scrubbed it until it came off. Well, at least they cleaned up after the mess they made.

A Messy Split

Even before being harassed by protesters, she had a stand-off with her ex-husband, Nick Loeb, who tried to sue her that same year. He tried to sue her over control of the frozen embryos, trying to tell the courts he’d heard she was going to destroy them after their split, and he wanted to be able to use them in the future.

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He continues to harass her legally in several states to gain control over a portion of her finances. But luckily, so far, she continues to win as judges side with her repeatedly.

Joe Manganiello

On “Modern Family,” the actress plays Gloria, who’s married to Jay Pritchett. But in real life, Sofia Vergara is married to fellow actor Joe Manganiello. His breakthrough role was as Alcide Herveaux, the werewolf, in five seasons of HBO’s hit show, “True Blood.”

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Since then, he’s acted in several films, including the “Magic Mike” franchise, “Spider-Man,” and “Justice League.” But how exactly does one land the most beautiful (and highest-paid) actress in existence? That’s a question he’s been asked time and time again.

The Beginning of Forever

Sofia Vergara and her beau first met back in 2014, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. At the time, the actress was still engaged to Loeb, though after the meeting, photos surfaced of Manganiello’s head turned her way. Do you blame him?

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He later admitted to checking her out, adding that he’s definitely not apologizing for it, even though he “totally got busted.” The two even bumped into each other and spoke for a while that evening. But, since she was still taken at the time, it didn’t evolve past friendly conversation that night.

True Love

Later that year, the two started dating, and six months into their relationship, the actor knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Sofia. So, what did he do?

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He proposed to her on Christmas Eve, of course. The proposal was reportedly incredibly romantic. Manganiello even prepared an entire speech for her in Spanish and said it as he got down on one knee as the sunset in the background.

Walking Down the Aisle

The following year, Vergara and Manganiello tied the knot in Palm Beach, Florida. There were 400 people in attendance at their wedding, including the actress’s “Modern Family” co-stars, along with an array of other celebs like Reese Witherspoon and Channing Tatum.

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They said their vows at the lavish Breakers Resort, where Vergara walked down the aisle in a stunning (custom) Zuhair Murad Couture dress.

The Secret to the Perfect Relationship

In mid-2020, Sofia Vergara celebrated her fifth anniversary with her husband, Joe Manganiello. In an interview with the “Daily Mail,” he revealed the secret to their relationship.

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He said he knew right away when they were together that he could trust her and that they were both kind-hearted people capable of putting others first. “I was capable of putting her wishes above mine, and she was capable of doing the same.”

Relationship Goals

Aside from always putting each other’s needs ahead of their own, the couple keeps things interesting between them by laughing – a lot. The actress even revealed to “HOLA! USA” that they made up a little voice that they use when speaking to each other.

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She also noted that if anyone outside of the relationship heard them, they’d probably wonder if everything was alright. After they saw that they shared the same sense of humor, they knew they were in it for the long haul. And, that it has been since they’ve been happily married now for over five years.

Sofia, the Dog Lover

Much like her character on “Modern Family,” Sofia is a dog lover and has a few of her own that she always hypes up on her Instagram. On the social media page, which has over 20.5 million followers, she frequently posts pictures of her two little dogs.

 

For Halloween, she included a picture of them in costumes of their own – one of which was wearing bat wings. Another image shows one of them in a sparkly little pink dress that’s oddly similar to one she’s worn in the past.

Spending the Summer in Italy

When you’re the highest-paid actress on TV, you can afford to travel anywhere in the world and do pretty much anything you want. For Sofia, this means heading to Italy during the summertime, in particular, Capri.

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“I like the food, the people, and the language,” she said during one interview. Well, that’s no surprise, given that her favorite food is Italian meatballs!

What’s Sofia’s Secret?

So, what’s her secret to staying gorgeous? She says that it’s all about balance. Of course, she exercises and works to stay healthy, but she does everything in moderation, including indulging.

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She loves to make muesli with Greek yogurt, oats, chia seeds, blueberries, and nuts for breakfast. While filming, she generally keeps things light. She enjoys eating fruits and veggies and says it’s not a big deal for her, but that she’s never been a fan of diets.

Her Sweet Tooth

Although she has no problem noshing on healthy foods, the actress has admitted to having a serious sweet tooth. In fact, in one of her recent Instagram posts, she seemed pretty sad about getting strawberries for dessert because there wasn’t anything more satisfying around.

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She probably would have much preferred a slice of cake or a brownie, but anything sweet will do!

Making History

Sofia Vergara became the first-ever Latina judge in “America’s Got Talent” history when she joined the showing early 2020. She puts the icing on the cake of one of the best judges’ panels in television history, including Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum.

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She replaced actress Gabrielle Union who left the show in November of 2019.

Comedy TV Star of the Year

At the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards, Sofia was named Comedy TV Star of the year, which is only fitting given that she makes more money than any other comedy star on television at the moment.

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Her acceptance speech was emotional, especially given that she delivered it not long after wrapping up the production of her final season on “Modern Family.” During the speech, she made sure to nod to her former on-screen husband, saying, “I miss you, Ed O’Neill!”