See the Evolution of the Character ‘Ugly’ Betty in Honor of Her Latest TV show, Betty en Nueva York
Ugly Betty, co-executive produced by Salma Hayek for ABC, starred America Ferrera as a young Latina who, despite her lack of style, lands a job at a fashion magazine, falling in love with her boss and transforming everyone’s notion of beauty.
Developed by Silvio Horta, Ugly Betty ran from 2006 to 2010. The series was based on Fernando Gaitán's Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, La fea, which has had numerous TV adaptations worldwide. Yo Soy Betty La Fea is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most successful telenovela of all time, having been adaptad in various languages and countries like Greece, Albania, Malaysia, Croatia and Vietnam, among others. Here’s a quick look at Betty’s impact on the small screen.
THE LATINA NEXT DOOR
Honduran-American actress America Ferrera — who got her start in films like Real Women Have Curves and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants — earned international fame and an Emmy for playing Ugly Betty’s Betty Suarez! “This show is about prejudice and going beyond what appearances are,” she told NPR of why people connected so much with the story.
THE ORIGINAL BETTY
Colombian actress Ana María Orozco was the first to play Betty on the small screen in the 1999 telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea.
Orozco said that her character of Betty La Fea was so wildly popular — and filming the hit series was so exhausting — that she decided to take a break from the public eye for two years after the telenovela to study Chinese medicine and yoga. She has since returned to acting in series like Somos Familia and Simona.
BETTY ON THE STAGE
Ana María Orozco played Betty again — alongside her telenovela costar Jorge Enrique Abello, the superficial boss who ends up falling for Betty’s inner beauty — on stage in Colombia. The cast of Yo Soy Betty La Fea reunited in the play of the same name, filling theaters in 2018.
BETTY TELENOVELA STYLE
Mexican actress and comedian Angélica Vale also played the beloved character, now named 'Letty' in the Televisa telenovela La Fea Más Bella (“The Prettiest Ugly Girl”), which aired in 2000.
BEFORE JANE THE VIRGIN...
Before his success on Jane the Virgin, Mexican actor Jaime Camil played Betty’s love interest in the telenovela La Fea Más Bella with Angélica Vale.
BETTY IN THE BIG APPLE
In February 2019, Betty hit the small screen again in the new Telemundo series Betty en Nueva York. The modernized version places the beloved heroine in Manhattan, showing the struggles of a millennial Betty in the big city.
HER BIG BREAK
Mexican actress Elyfer Torres spoke to People en Español about landing the breakthrough role of Betty. “It was a shock. I cried all day.... I felt this mix of emotions,” she recalls of getting the news of her first starring role.
Prior to playing Betty, the 21-year-old had smaller roles in series like El secreto de Selena, Nicky Jam's El ganador and La piloto.
WHY WE LOVE THE STORY
Puerto Rican actress Jeimy Osorio plays one of Betty’s close friends in the Telemundo series. She told People en Español that the story has a great anti-bullying message: It’s OK to be different and you don’t have to change your essence or look to fit in.
LOVE AT SECOND SIGHT
Mexican actor Erick Elías, who plays Betty’s boss and love interest in Telemundo’s Betty en Nueva York, told People en Español: “Now is a great time to retell this story. It’s a time when we are facing so many issues with discrimination and singling people out because of their physical appearance, sexual orientation, religion or skin color.” He says Betty’s example of not judging a book by its cover and practicing tolerance and compassion is something he wants to pass on to his own daughters: “I want them to accept themselves and people around them.”