Before She Was Famous: Vintage Photos Of Sofia Vergara

Colombian-American actress, producer, model, and presenter Sofia Vergara was discovered by a photographer when she was just a teenager in Colombia, South America. In the years since, she’s seen one success after another. The Modern Family star was the top-earning actress in American television in 2012, 2013, and 2016. As of 2019, and she is the highest-paid TV actress in the world. Let’s take a look back at some vintage photos of the lovely and talented Ms. Vergara from back before she became a superstar.

Born And Raised In Colombia

hat
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

Sofía Margarita Vergara was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on July 10, 1972. Her father, Julio Enrique Vergara Robayo, was a cattle rancher for the meat industry and her mother Margarita Vergara de Vergara was a homemaker.

Growing up, her many siblings, cousins, and friends started calling her “La Toti,” a silly nickname that’s stuck with her for life. The name is a twist to “Sofia” in Colombian culture and doesn’t really mean anything.

Discovered On The Beach

beach
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

Sofia was discovered on a beach in her home country when she was just 17 years old. A photographer spotted her and instantly recognized her star potential. He was right! Within weeks she was getting offers for modeling jobs and television work.

This is a throwback photo Sofia shared on her Instagram page, showing her as a teenager posed in front of a beach. Her oversized jacket and large purse don’t look like her typical beachwear, but it’s what makes the picture so unique.

Carnival Time!

green costume
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

“Tbt Carnaval de Barranquilla, CountryClub, The 80,” is what Sofia captioned this epic throwback photo that features her in a bright green ensemble. Her hilarious son Monolo replied: “Hello lettuce!” when he saw it. Very fitting description.

This look is pure 1980s, from the flamboyant headdress to the heavy makeup and permed hair. We even get a peek of her natural freckles here, which don’t appear in many newer photos of the star.

When In Rome…

Rome
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

Here’s another throwback photo shared by Sofia on Instagram. In this one, she’s in lovely Rome. Sofia is almost unrecognizable with her hair so light and blonde! But she clearly has that star quality about her no matter the color of her hair.

The caption: “I’m so busy during the holidays that there’s nothing I love more than reconnecting with friends and family! Even though I love going to #CasaChipiChipi, here are some photos of my favorite trips over the years. Throwback!”

That Accent

brick wall background
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siti4329/Pinterest

One of Sofia Vergara’s most noticeable features is her heavy accent. She has admitted that when she first got into acting, she took voice lessons to try and get rid of the accent. Luckily, she ended up accepting the way she speaks (and her fans do, too!).

“Accents are funny. It sets me apart from the other girls doing comedy. It gives me more—how do you say?—pop-oo-laaarrrity,” she once said.

She Attended Private School

water
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

Although the characters she plays aren’t always the smartest cookies around, Sofia herself is very intelligent and well-educated. She attended a private school, Marymount International School Barranquilla, where she learned how to speak English and French fluently.

She went on to study dentistry, which was her earliest career goal! I didn’t want to be an actress. I wanted to be a dentist but you never know what life will bring you,” she once said.

Halloween, 1987

halloween friends
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

In a series of throwback photos that Vergara recently posted, we get to see the star with her friends and classmates at Marymount International School Barranquilla. Sofia says that they were taken on Halloween in 1987.

She’s in the middle here (wearing a jack-o-lantern sticker and sunglasses on her head), looking like she’s having a blast with her BFFs! You can already see her personality shining through, despite the grainy photo quality.

She Got A Perfect Score On Her Citizenship Test

in colombia
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

In 2014, Sofia officially became a United States citizen. She went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and told host Jimmy Kimmel all about the experience. She aced the test! “They make you [jump through hoops] because they have to make sure that you deserve to be part of the country,” she said. “The most interesting thing for me was, they give you like a hundred questions that you have to learn, and then they give you a quiz, like a test.”

“I got all questions perfect,” Vergara added. “Yes, all of them… I got all the questions!” See, she’s as smart as she is beautiful.

Hitting The Big Screen In America

Chasing Papi
Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

When this photo was taken for the Los Angeles Times in 2003, Sofia Vergara was promoting her new film, Chasing Papi. In the movie, she plays CICI, a sexy Miami waitress.

This was Sofia’s first appearance on the big screen in the United States. Although the film didn’t get terrific reviews from critics, it certainly didn’t stop Sofia from blasting off in her acting career. “I’m happy with what I’ve achieved,” she once said about her life’s work.

A Highly-Acclaimed Actress

black white portrait
tomallmon/Pinterest
tomallmon/Pinterest

Although Sofia was no stranger to the camera when she signed on with ABC’s Modern Family, this was the show that pushed her into real super-stardom. Playing Gloria Pritchett, a mother who’s from Colombia, Sofia’s work on the show earned her acclaim left and right.

She received a slew of nominations and awards for Modern Family, including the coveted 2017 People’s Choice Award Favorite TV Comedy Actress.

Walking The Red Carpet In 2002

Big Trouble
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

Here’s Sofia arriving at a red carpet event in 2002, when her film Big Trouble came out. She’s as stunning as ever in this sleek copper dress that shows off all her curves.

Sofia has shared that all of her dresses, for the red carpet or everyday wear, are custom-made to fit her unique body type. Hey, it works! She always looks like a million bucks when she’s out and about.

She Married Young

first wedding
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lexraven1rc/Pinterest

Today, Sofia has an amazing relationship with her husband, fellow actor Joe Manganiello. But some fans aren’t aware that she was married once before! It was a far cry from her and Joe’s $3 million wedding in Florida.

Her first marriage was to her high school sweetheart, Joe Gonzalez. She was just 18 years old at the time. In 1992, they had a son together, who they named Manolo. The couple divorced in 1993.

She Starred In The Spanish ‘Desperate Housewives’

white dress
tmperez72/Pinterest
tmperez72/Pinterest

In the United States, fans watched Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, and Teri Hatcher as the “Desperate Housewives” on ABC. Meanwhile, Sofia Vergara played the role of Mary Alice Young on the Spanish version of the show, which was titled Amas De Casa Desesperadas.

She did most of the narration on the show, much like the American version, and says that her work on Amas De Casa Desesperadas was a terrific experience.

Animal Lover

horse
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

When she posted this photo, taken in the 1990s, Sofia wrote, “I want to say Miami but I cant really [remember]!” In the pic, she’s on the beach alongside a gorgeous chestnut horse. To this day, the star loves horses and rides them frequently.

She’s also fond of dogs and even threw her son Manolo’s pooch a high-end, princess-themed fifth birthday party! Manolo owns a luxury dog goods company called CANINI by Baguette.

She’s Even Done Broadway

vintage Yellow shirt
trrar15/Pinterest
trrar15/Pinterest

Modern Family might be her biggest show to date, but Sofia Vergara is not just known for her work on television. The multi-talented beauty has also performed on stage as Matron Mama Morton in the Broadway show Chicago. She said she loved working in the theater and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again if the right role came along.

This vintage photo shows a young Sofia, only 17 years old, posing in a tank top and shorts. South American sultry!

Cover Girl

magazine cover
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

Not only has she graced the covers of many, many magazines over the years (like this one, from the 1990s) but Sofias also one of the faces of the CoverGirl cosmetics brand. She first began appearing in the company’s ads in January 2012.

In some of the commercials, she appears alongside comedian Ellen DeGeneres, with the two affectionately kidding each other the whole time. Sofia is an “easy, breezy beautiful, CoverGirl!”

Pretty In Pink

pink backdrop
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

Did you know that Sofia is a natural blonde? It’s true! She discussed her hair with Parade magazine in 2011, the year she turned 45. “I’m a natural blonde, like my siblings,” she said.

“When I started auditioning for American acting roles, they didn’t know where to put me. A blonde Latina? In L.A. they’re used to Latin women looking more Mexican. But if you go to Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, everybody is blond.”

Awards Ceremony Season

MTV Sofia Vergara
Kevin Mazur Archive 1/WireImage
Kevin Mazur Archive 1/WireImage

Here’s the lovely Sofia Vergara arriving for the MTV Video Music Awards Latinoamérica in 2002. She was there to co-present the award for Best Artist—Southwest.

The same year, she was in the comedy film Big Trouble, in which she co-starred alongside Zooey Deschanel, Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Dennis Farina, and Jason Lee. Sofia played a character called Nina, a young Mexican housemaid who falls in love with Jason Lee’s character Puggy.

She’s Got A Great Sense Of Humor

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bettydiamond1/Pinterest
bettydiamond1/Pinterest

Sofia’s hubby Joe Manganiello, the Magic Mike actor, spoke with Men´s Health magazine about being married to the star and how much they love to make each other laugh.

“I like talking to her. I like goofing around with her,” he said. “We… laugh all day long every day. My favorite thing in the world is making my wife laugh so much she cries. It’s the best.” That’s so sweet!

Sweet Selfie With Son

with her son
sofiavergara/Instagram
sofiavergara/Instagram

When her son, Manolo Gonzalez Vergara, celebrated his 23rd birthday, Sofia couldn’t resist posting this adorable nostalgic photo of the two of them together. She captioned the image, “Feliz Cumpleaños to the best son in the world!!!”

Vergara had Manolo when she was 19, and she raised him as a single mother. She’s super proud of him. “When people compliment me on him, on how well mannered, how charming, funny and well-behaved he is, it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile,” she told People.