When Modern Family wraps its last season, it will end a decade-long run that has seen Sofia Vergara receive four Emmy nominations, become an international spokeswoman, host Saturday Night Live, get married and earn $41.5 million in 2017. Aware that she will soon venture from the comfort of a blockbuster role on one of TV’s longest running comedies into the deep waters of post-Modern life, Vergara says she has never forgotten how lucky she is.
In January, it was announced that the beloved series will bow out at the conclusion of its tenth season in 2019. “It’s going to be very sad for all of us to finish a show that has been so good to us. We’ve had the best schedule, we’ve had the best people working on the show, it’s been a dream job, I think, for all of us,” says Vergara. “It’s sometimes once in a lifetime for an actor to find a show as amazing as Modern Family.”
After studying dentistry in Colombia before relocating to Miami where she worked as a TV host for Unvision, Vergara, 47, expertly used Modern Family—her first taste of mainstream American fame—as a springboard to lucrative business deals. Since the show began, she’s been featured in campaigns for Pepsi, State Farm, Head & Shoulders and CoverGirl. Forbes reported that only a quarter of her eight-figure income comes from her work on the series. She’s launched a clothing line, Sofia by Sofia Vergara, at Kmart and in 2017 co-founded Raze, a digital media company producing Latin-focused content. She’s also working on EBY, a company that sells underwear by subscription and contributes 10% of its net sales to microfinance programs for women.
Her attitude and her work ethic have been shaped by her circumstances. Married when she was 18, Vergara divorced soon after the birth of her son Manolo, now 26. Knowing she had a child at home was a tremendous motivator for her. “When you’re single and you have a kid, you worry. You worry everyday, you wake up and if you don’t have enough money to pay for his medical insurance, for his food, for someone to help with him while you work, a nanny,” she says. “That drove me to never be lazy, [not fear] failure and always try to create opportunities for myself. I think that helped me [with] the motivation and [to] keep me walking straight.”
It was those years, the nose to the grindstone period when it was just her and Manolo, that set her up to achieve worldwide fame in her mid-thirties. “When you’re young it’s fun opportunities and partying, and you lose a lot of time. Because of my son, I always felt that I didn’t have the right to lose any time, and I think I was able to do so many things that have made me very happy,” she explains. Happily married to actor Joe Manganiello since 2015, she credits her son, who has appeared with her in Head & Shoulders ads, with allowing her to pursue her dreams. “I think I was able to do all the things I wanted to do in my career because Manolo never gave me a problem—I never had to be after him or worried about him. As a mother, that gives you a lot of peace and time to think about things that you want to do,” she says.
Knowing that she has a small empire of ventures that demand attention helps Vergara as she nears her transition from her show. “I know that the odds of me finding another Modern Family are going to be very small so I think it’s better for me to focus on doing more movies when I’m done. Now there are more options on TV, because there’s Netflix, HBO and all of that miniseries stuff,” she says. “But I’m kind of happy that I worked very hard throughout these nine years so financially I [don’t have to] go crazy after it’s done.” While starring on Modern Family Vergara appeared in films like Hot Pursuit, Chef and Machete Kills, but in coming years she will have the time and capacity to do much more in film.
Vergara recently appeared in The Female Brain, a relationship comedy directed and cowritten by Whitney Cummings. The ability to work with a female director was incredibly appealing to her. “My agent asked me if I was interested in having a part in this movie and even before reading the script I was like, ‘Yes, of course I would love to,’ because I think Whitney is a very talented woman,” she says. “Then I read the script and said, ‘Oh yeah, I can do this.’ But my main thing was no matter what the role was, I was going to do it because I thought it was a great project done by a woman.”
As illogical as it may seem, TV’s comedic queen insists that she’s far from having her pick of roles. In fact, she’s generally grateful just to receive offers. “I can’t be that picky because the truth is that I’m very new to acting, I’ve never had an acting class in my life. I always feel very honored to have a director or my agents call me to offer me a part,” she says. “Unless it’s something that I know I can’t do, like if they’re [looking for] singers, of course I’m not going to go to that audition! If it’s a role I think that I can do I’ll do it because for me it’s all a learning experience.”
Photography: Marc Hom/Trunk Archive
Styling: Jennifer Bauser