Sofía Vergara on remaking herself as

For 11 seasons, we came to know Sofía Vergara as the feisty, funny Gloria Pritchett in the ABC sitcom “Modern Family.” Three years after the series ended, Vergara is back with something completely different. In her new role, the 51-year-old is a chain-smoking, bat-swinging, gun-wielding killer. “All of my focus was that people were not going to see Gloria Pritchett,” Vergara said. “That’s what I wanted people not to see.”

“Griselda,” the Netflix series out later this month, tells the story of Griselda Blanco, a single mother of four and a notorious cartel leader. “She was this Colombian woman in the ’70s and the ’80s that actually took over the drug dealing business, not only in Colombia, [but] here in the United States, too,” Vergara said. “I mean, for me as a woman, I was fascinated: How did she become even more ruthless, more horrific than any man?”  

To watch a trailer for “Griselda” click on the video player below:

Griselda | Official Trailer | Netflix by
Netflix on

Blanco was among the first drug lords to bring cocaine to the American masses. Called the Black Widow, she was rumored to have ordered the deaths of hundreds of people.

Vergara said, “When I thought of Griselda, I wanted her to be like Tony Soprano. I wanted her to be a character that people didn’t hate, even though it was a bad guy.”

For the character, Vergara changed the way she walked, talked, and looked. She used prosthetics to change the appearance of her nose, teeth, and eyebrows. “I wanted me to disappear,” she said.

Prosthetics were used to make Vergara disappear into the character of Griselda. 


Making “Griselda” a reality began in 2012 , when Vergara was connected with director Andrés Baiz and creator Eric Newman, known for their work on the Netflix hit “Narcos.”

Asked how he approached a comic TV star playing the murderous leader of a cartel, Baiz admitted, “As a director, I was nervous, because Sofía’s a national treasure in Colombia. I’m from Colombia. Suddenly she’s taking this very brave stance, this big leap in her career, to do something dramatic.”

Newman said, “Sofía is an empire-builder. You know, Sofía has built herself into an industry. I believe that anything she truly sets her mind to doing, she will do.”

Sofia Vergara as Griselda and Alberto Ammann as Alberto Bravo in the Netflix series “Griselda.”

Netflix/Elizabeth Morris

The result is a gritty portrayal, and a cautionary tale of the true toll of narcotics, which hits close to home for Vergara. “Unfortunately, I grew up in Colombia during the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, where narco trafficking was booming,” she said. “I know those people. I was surrounded by them. I know what they did. I know what that kind of business can do to a family, to a person, to a country.”

An estimated quarter of a million people were killed during Colombia’s decades-long drug war. Among the casualties: Vergara’s own brother, Rafael. “My brother was killed during that time. My brother was part of that business. I know what it feels like. I know what that world is.”

Vergara grew up in Baranquilla, Colombia. Her father was a cattle rancher and her mother was a homemaker. At 17 she was discovered on the beach and cast for a Pepsi commercial. “They wanted me to do it, but I was in a Catholic school. I was very, very worried that the nuns were gonna get super-upset, because it was in a bathing suit on the beach.”

That commercial was the launching pad to stardom, but for a time Vergara thought success meant losing her accent. Moving to L.A., she thought, “I’m going to fix it.” But it didn’t happen. “When I would go to auditions all I was thinking about was my pronunciation and not about the accent.”

She decided, she said, to “just be myself.”

Actress Sofía Vergara. 

CBS News

And she continues to do so, as an actress, producer, entrepreneur, and judge on “America’s Got Talent.”

She said, when she arrived in the United States, she could never have imagined building this kind of career: “I’m very happy, very grateful, because it’s been more than I thought it was gonna be.”

But with all the success, there were challenges, including this past year when she announced she and Joe Manganiello, her husband of seven years, were divorcing.

The world took notice, but she said she expected that: “Of course. You’re like, you know, you’re out there and people know. That’s part of being a celebrity. I knew it was gonna happen. You can’t hide those things. It wasn’t bad. … I have to say the press was very respectful and very nice. And I thought that they were gonna invent more things, you know, how they usually [do], and I was surprised. No, they kind of, like, just said what it was, and that was it. And I’ve been moving on.”

Vergara describes having a wonderful life: “But of course you have to work, you have to work more than anyone if you have an accent like me!” she laughed. “And you have to prove yourself more if you’re a minority. You have to be more serious, because you might not get that many opportunities. It hasn’t been easy, but I mean, it’s been amazing.”

For more info:

  • The limited series “Griselda” premieres globally on Netflix January 25

Story produced by Gabriel Falcon and Robin Singer. Editor: Joseph Frandino.

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