America Ferrera

Paul Fenton/

It takes a girl with a good head on her shoulders to take the lead role in a show called Ugly Betty. Thankfully for ABC, that girl is talented film actress America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), and thankfully for America, the show's title is actually ironic. Though the 22-year-old's character, Betty Suarez, wears Coke-bottle glasses and a brightly colored poncho to her job at a fashion magazine, she's actually the prettiest girl on the show--on the inside

So, Betty actually isn't ugly.
Right. What's so wonderful about this show is that when you watch her, when you actually listen to what she says and see how smart she is, you realize she is beautiful. And that's the message, but it is subtle. As a viewer, I don't like to sit there and have a message pounded at me--like children's television, where they're like, "And the moral of today's story is..." I think American audiences are a lot more sophisticated. If you tell a good story, they'll take from it what they will.

Why did you decide to do TV?
I never really thought TV would have a place in my career, but I just fell in love with this character. TV is special, because it's in people's homes, and they feel like you're a part of their lives every week. I grew up watching [ABC's] TGIF, and to me, D.J.'s problems on Full House were my problems, you know?

What do your friends and family think of the show?
It's all been really positive. They are everyday people, and it's wonderful to hear, "What happens next? What happens next?!" They want more, which is a good sign.

Speaking of what's next, your boss on the show, Eric Mabius, is pretty dang cute. Any chance Betty will get some lovin'?
Well, the original Betty, from the Colombian telenovela, which my character is based on, actually ends up getting an extreme makeover and marrying her boss, and there's a big, happy ending. But our plotlines are completely new and fresh. We're not really following any kind of formula. I can say there will be romance, but it might not be the way you think. They're going to throw in a couple other cuties, and it'll be a lot of fun.

Please tell me Betty's not getting a makeover.
Well, we've already done a makeover episode, but let's just say it goes completely awry.

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