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America Ferrera
America Ferrara Cannes 2014.jpg
Ferrera at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival
Born
America Georgine Ferrera

April 18, 1984 (1984-04-18) (age 37)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Actress, voice actress, producer
Years active 2002–present
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s)
Ryan Piers Williams (m. 2011)
Children 2

America Georgin Ferrera ( born April 18, 1984) is an American actress, voice actress, producer, and director. Born in Los Angeles, California, to Honduran parents, Ferrera developed an interest in acting at a young age, performing in several stage productions at her school. She made her feature film debut in 2002 with the comedy-drama Real Women Have Curves, winning praise for her performance. Ferrera is the recipient of numerous accolades including an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award among others.

Ferrera garnered modest success early in her career with roles in films like the Disney original Gotta Kick It Up! (2002) and the drama The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005); the latter earned her the Imagen Award Best Actress and her first nomination at the ALMA Awards. She ventured into television roles and landed the leading part on the ABC comedy-drama Ugly Betty (2006–2010). Ferrera garnered critical acclaim for playing the protagonist of the series, Betty Suarez, and won the Best Actress Awards at various award ceremonies in 2007 including the Golden Globe Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Primetime Emmy Award, the first for a Latin woman in the category.

Ferrera's other notable film roles include the drama The Dry Land (2010), the romantic comedy Our Family Wedding (2010), and the crime drama End of Watch (2012). She provided the voice of Astrid Hofferson in the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, including the three films and the television series Dreamworks Dragons. She recently co-produced and starred as Amy Sosa in the NBC comedy series Superstore (2015–2020).

Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007.

Early life and education

Ferrera, the youngest of six children, was born in Los Angeles, California. Her parents, América Griselda Ayes and Carlos Gregorio Ferrera, were originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and immigrated to the United States in the mid-1970s. Her mother worked as the director of the housekeeping staff for one of the Hilton Hotels, and stressed the importance of higher education. When she was 7, her parents divorced and her father returned to Honduras. Ferrera was estranged from her father when he died there in 2010.

Ferrera was raised in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles, where she attended Calabash Street Elementary School, George Ellery Hale Middle School and El Camino Real High School. From the age of seven, when she landed a small role in a school production of Hamlet, and then when she was 10, the role as the Artful Dodger in Oliver!, Ferrera knew that she wanted to be a performer. Her first play was Romeo and Juliet, and although only in the third grade, she went to the junior high school and auditioned and got the role of the Apothecary. She acted in school plays and community theatre in Los Angeles throughout her youth, though with little help from her mother, who insisted that she pursue other interests because she was concerned her daughter would not be treated fairly. Ferrera disliked her first name as a child and went by her middle name, "Georgine", until she began acting professionally.

While at El Camino High School, she took acting lessons at the age of 15 and was able to pay for them by waiting tables and babysitting. She entered the University of Southern California (USC) on a presidential scholarship, double majoring in theatre and international relations. She dropped out to focus on her acting career, but completed her bachelor's degree in May 2013.

Career

Debut and early roles (2002–2005)

In July 2002, Ferrera appeared in her first television movie, Gotta Kick It Up! for The Disney Channel. While at a theatre program at Northwestern University that same year, she made her feature movie debut in Real Women Have Curves. Ferrera followed this with roles in television (Touched by an Angel). She also appeared in the movie Plainsong, based on the novel by Kent Haruf, which also featured Aidan Quinn and Rachel Griffiths. Ferrera played a pregnant teenager, Victoria Roubideaux, who has been kicked out of her mother's house; she is taken in by two kindly brothers who live alone on a farm. In the 2005 film How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, she starred as Bianca, a 17-year-old third-generation Mexican-American who is disgusted with the boys in her neighborhood but finds romance with a boy from a neighboring town. In 2006, she appeared in the short film 3:52, which won the Audience Award at the San Diego Women Film Festival. Later that year, she featured in the movie Steel City, which received nominations at the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Sundance Film Festival. In December 2005, she appeared in the Off-Broadway play Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, directed by Trip Cullman.

Breakthrough and rise to fame (2006–2010)

America Ferrera 2010
Ferrera at the 2010 Voice Awards

In 2006, Ferrera landed the lead role of Betty Suarez in ABC's new comedy-drama Ugly Betty, an adaptation of the successful Colombian telenovela Yo soy Betty, la fea, in which Ferrera portrays a girl whom her peers find extremely unattractive, thus the series title. As Betty Suarez, Ferrera wears braces, has bushy eyebrows and a disheveled wig, and cosmetics and clothing intended to downplay her own looks, in contrast to most of the "glammed up" characters; Ferrera herself invented the term “Bettification” to describe the process of creating her onscreen persona. In 2007, Ferrera won numerous accolades winning the “triple crown” for her performance in the series; she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, becoming the first Latin woman to win the Outstanding Lead Actress Award.

In the wake of her Golden Globe win, Ferrera was congratulated by Hilda L. Solis in the United States House of Representatives and was commended for "helping to break down stereotypes and provide a role model for young Latinas". Time included Ferrera in their 2007 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Also in 2007, Ferrera won Imagen Foundation's Creative Achievement Award. Ferrera starred as Carmen in the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and reprised the role in 2008's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Among other film work, she supplied the voice of Astrid in the hit animated film How to Train Your Dragon (2010). She also appeared in The Dry Land which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and ran at the Dallas International Film Festival where it won the top prize in the Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature.

After Ugly Betty, and Superstore (2011–present)

Ferrera made her London stage debut on November 7, 2011, playing Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago in London's West End. In 2012, Ferrera was featured in the four-hour documentary Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which premiered on PBS October 1 and 2, 2012. The series introduces women and girls living in very difficult circumstances and struggling to challenge them. The Half the Sky PBS TV series is produced by Show of Force along with Fugitive Films. Ferrera starred alongside David Cross and Julia Stiles in the dark comedy It's a Disaster, which premiered at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival and had a limited commercial release on April 12, 2013.

On May 17, 2013, ABC announced that Ferrera was cast in a limited-run telenovela titled Pedro & Maria, a modern-day take on Romeo and Juliet set in Washington, D.C. The series had been in development at MTV since 2010 with Ferrera serving as a director on the project, which would have interactive participation online content from viewers. ABC later decided not to move forward with the series. On March 16, 2015, Ferrera was added to the cast of the upcoming NBC sitcom Superstore, portraying Amy, a 10-year veteran floor supervisor at a superstore named Cloud 9. In addition to her main role, Ferrera has co-production duties as well. After NBC had initially announced a sixth season of the series, the network revealed on February 28, 2020, that Ferrera would be departing the series at the end of the fifth season citing new projects and spending time with family. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down Superstore with one episode left to film, her departure was delayed into season 6 in order to give her character's arc a proper closure. On March 10, 2021, NBC announced that Ferrera would return for the show's one-hour series finale.

In February 2019, it was announced that Ferrera would be credited as an executive producer and director for the Netflix comedy-drama series Gentefied. The series premiered on February 21, 2020.

Personal life

Voice Awards Presenter America Ferrera and Voice Awards Winner Ryan Piers Williams on Red Carpet
Ferrera with her then-fiancé Ryan Piers Williams in October 2010

Ferrera first met actor, director, and writer Ryan Piers Williams when he cast her in a student film at USC. The couple became engaged in June 2010, and married on June 27, 2011. On January 1, 2018, Ferrera and Williams revealed that they were expecting their first child. She announced on her Instagram page on May 29, 2018, that she had given birth that month to a boy, Sebastian. On May 4, 2020, Ferrera gave birth to a girl, Lucia. On July 1, 2020, Ferrera announced that she and Williams had been together for a total of 15 years.

In 2018, her edited anthology of stories, American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, was published by Gallery Publishing Group.

Political activities

Ferrera has been politically active. During the 2008 presidential primaries, she, alongside Chelsea Clinton and Amber Tamblyn, led the Hillblazers organization in support of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Ferrera attended both the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. At the 2016 convention, she addressed the delegates as a speaker, sharing the stage with Lena Dunham.

America Ferrera and Hillary Clinton (3113651521) (cropped)
Ferrera with Hillary Clinton in 2008

Ferrera has been active, through her involvement with the organization Voto Latino and by appearing on various news programs, in getting Latinos in the United States to vote. Ferrera also works with Eva Longoria to co-host She Se Puede, a digital lifestyle platform which encourages voting within the Latina community. As a continuation of their work prior to the 2020 presidential campaign, Ferrera and Longeria recently held a textbanking event with VoteRiders to educate voters about Georgia's strict Voter ID laws ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff.

Ferrera was the opening speaker for the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017.

Ferrera spoke at the Families Belong Together protest on June 30, 2018.

Film

Year Title Role Notes
2002 Real Women Have Curves Ana García
2004 Darkness Minus Twelve Luiza Short film
2005 How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer Blanca Garcia
2005 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Carmen Lowell
2005 Lords of Dogtown Thunder Monkey
2005 3:52 Kate
2006 Steel City Amy Barnes
2007 Muertas Rebecca Short film; also executive producer
2007 Towards Darkness (Hacia la oscuridad) Luiza Also executive producer
2007 Under the Same Moon Martha
2008 The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 Carmen Lowell
2008 Tinker Bell Fawn Direct-to-video; voice role
2010 The Dry Land Sarah Also executive producer
2010 Our Family Wedding Lucia Ramirez
2010 How to Train Your Dragon Astrid Hofferson Voice role
2010 Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon Short film; voice role
2011 Book of Dragons
2011 Gift of the Night Fury
2012 It's a Disaster Hedy Galili
2012 End of Watch Officer Orozco
2012 Half the Sky Herself Documentary film
2014 César Chávez Helen Chavez
2014 X/Y Silvia Also producer
2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2 Astrid Hofferson Voice role
2014 Dawn of the Dragon Racers Short film; voice role
2016 Special Correspondents Brigida
2019 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Astrid Hofferson Voice role

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2002–2008
2010–2011
Independent Lens Herself / Host Seasons 5–9, 12–13
112 episodes
2002 Touched by an Angel Charlee Episode: "The Word"
2002 Gotta Kick It Up! Yolanda "Yoli" Vargas Disney Channel Original Movie
2004 Plainsong Victoria Roubideaux Hallmark Hall of Fame movie
2004 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation April Perez Episode: "Harvest"
2006–2010 Ugly Betty Betty Suarez Lead role; 85 episodes
2011–2013 The Good Wife Natalie Flores 4 episodes
2011 Handy Manny Graciela Morales Episode: "Snow Problem"; voice
2012–2018 DreamWorks Dragons Astrid Hofferson Main cast; voice
2014 Years of Living Dangerously Herself Episode: "Winds of Change"
2015–2020 Superstore Amelia “Amy” Sosa Main cast, 100 episodes; also co-producer and director of episodes:
  • Mateo's Last Day
  • Video Game Release
  • Sandra's Fight
  • Lady Boss
2016 Lip Sync Battle Herself Episode: "America Ferrera vs. Amber Tamblyn"
2017 Curb Your Enthusiasm Vanessa Nadal (Lin's wife) Episode: "The Shucker"
2019 How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming Astrid Hofferson Voice role
2020 Gentefied Andy Cruz Episode: "The Mural"
Executive producer, director

Web

Year Title Role Notes
2012 Christine Christine Main cast; 12 episodes
2015 What's Your Emergency Brenda Fitzgerald 2 episodes
2017 Gente-fied

Music video

Title Year Performer(s) Director Album Ref.
"Family Feud" 2017 Jay-Z (featuring Beyoncé) Ava DuVernay 4:44

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
2002 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize: Dramatic Real Women Have Curves Won
2003 Independent Spirit Award Best Debut Performance Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Nominated
2005 Satellite Award Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie Breakout Performance – Female Nominated
Choice Movie Hissy Fit Nominated
2006 ALMA Award Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Imagen Award Best Actress Won
Satellite Award Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical Ugly Betty Nominated
2007 ALMA Award Outstanding Actress – Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie Won
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Imagen Award Best Actress – Television Won
Creative Achievement Award N/A Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Ugly Betty Won
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Won
Satellite Award Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Won
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with cast) Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice TV: Breakout Won
Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated
TCA Award Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
2008 Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Won
Imagen Award Best Actress – Television Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with cast) Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated
2009 ALMA Award Actress in Television – Comedy Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Comedy or Musical Nominated
NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Imagen Award Best Actress – Television Nominated
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Television Actress Nominated
New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award N/A Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Ugly Betty Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actress: Comedy Nominated
2010 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Imagen Award Best Actress – Television Won
Best Actress – Film The Dry Land Nominated
Our Family Wedding Nominated
2011 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Actress-Animated Female Film How to Train Your Dragon Won
2016 Imagen Award Best Actress – Television Superstore Nominated
2017 Gracie Awards Actress in a Leading Role - Comedy or Musical Won
Golden Nymph Awards Best Actress - Comedy Pending
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