ALMA Award May Be Coming to America
Following her recent Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award wins, the actress is nominated for her title performance in ABC's "Ugly Betty." Her series about an unlikely fashion-magazine employee has six additional nominations in the annual honors for Hispanic talents in television, movies and music, which ABC broadcasts Tuesday, June 5.
"This is absolutely a very special award for us, because of what our show really represents for the Latino community," Ferrera says. "To be embraced by that community was our hope from the beginning, although the show appeals to a wide variety of people. I think Betty is a real symbol of success and heroism for Latinos, so it's wonderful to be able to stay true to that."
Taped several nights earlier at the Pasadena (Calif.) Civic Auditorium, the ALMA event is hosted and co-produced by Eva Longoria ("Desperate Housewives") for the second consecutive year. At this writing, Prince was scheduled to perform "with a special surprise guest," according to ABC.
Presented by the National Council of La Raza -- the United States' largest Hispanic advocacy group -- the two-hour show also is slated to feature Jessica Alba, Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Mario Lopez, Eva Mendes ("Ghost Rider") and music's Los Lonely Boys.
All those performers have attained crossover popularity, and Ferrera believes "Ugly Betty" has earned its place at the same table.
"The significance of the show's success," she says, "is that it's a Latin show that's being enjoyed by people across the board. I feel that's a very important step forward for Latinos in the entertainment industry.
"It's pretty exciting to be in a room with so many people who, at some point in your life, were inspirations to you," Ferrera adds. "To be honored by them is very rewarding, and it's also reassuring that hard work pays off. You just don't let minor (career) setbacks make you feel hopeless. Everyone has heard 'no' a hundred times for every 'yes' they've heard."
Pleased that Longoria is now a driving force behind the ALMA Awards, Ferrera calls her fellow ABC star "a really great gal. We run into each other here and there, and it's wonderful to know there's support from other Latina actresses for 'Ugly Betty.' By no means are we competing with one another. It's been great to be able turn on any network and see Latino actors in a nondemeaning way. There's more than a handful of us, and there's more than one Latino experience."
Ferrera also was ALMA-nominated last year for "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," and she's about to start a sequel to that movie. She's looking forward to reuniting with co-stars Alexis Bledel ("Gilmore Girls") and Amber Tamblyn ("Joan of Arcadia"), who gave her a tip she didn't exactly follow.
"One of their pieces of advice to me was, 'Don't ever be the title character in a television show,' " Ferrera says. "I remember watching how hard they worked and how tired they were, and they kept saying, 'Don't do it! Stick to movies. It's so much easier.' In fact, filming a movie is pretty much a vacation compared to a weekly television schedule. I can't imagine working so hard for something you didn't believe in. I feel really lucky to be a part of something I do believe in and love."
With the first year of the critically lauded "Ugly Betty" completed, Ferrera reflects, "It's kind of crazy, it went by so fast. I can't believe I'm on a second-season show already. Once we got spoofed on 'Saturday Night Live'; that was pretty much a mark that you'd gone beyond being a show that's in the background. It was really fun to be considered in the mainstream that way."
The latest TV Land Awards also paid homage by including a parody titled "Ugly Betty White," starring the "Golden Girls" and "Mary Tyler Moore Show" veteran.
After only a short time away, Ferrera -- whose smile was insured for $10 million recently by Lloyd's of London -- is eager to resume filming her show.
"One of the reasons it's successful," she says, "is that it doesn't preach in a heavy-handed way. It's about being able to laugh at how we are, and the vanity of our culture is becoming increasingly apparent. I think laughter is the No. 1 way to bring people together, and that's what the show is really trying to do.
"I've never had to live with a character for so long," Ferrera continues. "The longest theater run I've done was three months. Now that I've been with Betty for 10 months, I feel fortunate to get to live with her for another season, to be surprised by what the writers come up with, and to take her farther. It's fun to have an audience excited to see where she goes, too."