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NBC Insider America's Got Talent

Everything to Know About Sofia Vergara's Life Before "Modern Family" Success

The AGT Judge has had an incredible, decades-long career. 

By Jax Miller

America’s Got Talent is returning for its 18th Season, featuring our fan-favorite Judges, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, and Simon Cowell, as well as Host Terry Crews. Also returning will be Judge Sofia Vergara, who joined the cast in Season 15 during the height of Vergara's long and far-reaching career.

Where is Sofia Vergara from?

The Modern Family actress, 50, was born in Barranquilla, Columbia, a seaside town along the western edge of the Magdalena River, its northern end just jutting into the Caribbean Sea.

Sofia Vergara at the 2002 MTV Latin America Video Music Awards.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 19 premiere of America’s Got Talent Tuesday, May 28 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock


You can see a bikini-clad Vergara in the 1989 Spanish-speaking advertisement, which Vergara posted as a throwback on her Instagram page. She would snag several telenovela roles thereafter.

One year later, Vergara married her high school sweetheart, and at 19 years old, she gave birth to a son, Manolo Gonzalez Vergara, according to Oprah Daily

How Sofia Vergara Became Famous

Vergara had already gained moderate success on the Spanish-speaking Univision network, such as with the 1995 travel show Fuera de Serie, which aired from 1995 to 1998 (watch a clip here). After emigrating to Miami, she began hosting a short-lived 1999 game show called A Que No Te Atreves (Dare Me) and had a bit part on the American hit series Baywatch as herself, once a spokesperson for the now-defunct Bally Total Fitness.

By late 2000, the then-28-year-old had a shocking thyroid cancer diagnosis, which “scared” and bewildered her, according to Parade. Vergara said she never smoked or used drugs and didn’t even eat red meat, saying, “I immediately thought of my child.”

She said she felt healthy at the time.

Vergara underwent surgery and radiation treatment and continues taking medication to control her hypothyroidism, according to the New York Times. Thankfully, she made a full recovery and would continue to pursue her dreams.

Vergara’s big acting break came in 2002 when landing the role of sexy Samba instructor Selma in My Wife and Kids. That same year, Vergara was picked for a supporting role in the film Big Trouble, starring Tim Allen and Rene Russo.

The Hollywood hopeful moved to Los Angeles in 2005, and for the next few years, she acted in various films and television shows. But it was her starring role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett in Modern Family that set her on a course of full-blown stardom beginning in 2009.

The Emmy-Award-winning series garnered Vergara four Emmy nominations, four Golden Globe nominations, and four Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award wins.

Where Is Sofia Vergara Now?

Sofia Vergara at the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

Vergara’s many film roles since have included The Three Stooges (2012), Machete Kills (2013), and Hot Pursuit (2015). She has also guest starred in multiple TV and voice roles, such as Saturday Night Live, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, and The Simpsons.

Vergara’s successful career extended to non-entertainment business ventures as well. She has an eyewear collection with Foster Grant, as well as best-selling home and fashion collections in Walmart. Past fragrance and jewelry lines with the retail giant are also a part of Vergara's impressive resumé.

Vergara also partnered with Kiva to help establish the Global COVID-19 Response Fund, which has raised more than $150 million for marginalized populations affected by the pandemic.

We’re excited to see where the road takes Sofia Vergara next as she returns as a Judge for the 18th Season of America’s Got Talent, coming later this year. Fans can catch up on past episodes on NBC and Peacock.