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Nadra Kareem Nittle

Is Sofia Vergara Playing Up Latina Stereotypes?

By March 26, 2012

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A few weeks ago my I was watching the opening episode of "Entourage" Season 4 when I spotted a woman onscreen who looked familiar. "Is that Sofia Vergara?" I wondered. It sure looked like her, but the actress was so subdued and soft spoken I couldn't be sure. A quick search on the Internet revealed that Vergara had indeed appeared on the HBO show. But the character she played on the program was so different from the Sofia Vergara who's now a household name that I felt incredulous. Where was the loud, over-the-top, heavily accented woman of "Modern Family" fame?

Of course, Vergara is an actress and it's her job to play a wide range of personalities. However, some Hispanics say that on and off the screen Vergara plays just one character, a flamboyant, stereotypical Latina. A recent poll on the Huffington Post LatinoVoices website asked readers if Vergara had taken the Latina stereotype too far. While nearly 43 percent answered no because the actress is Colombian, about 29 percent agreed that Vergara does behave too stereotypically and another 29 percent said that maybe she does but they couldn't care less because she's fun to watch. On the other hand, Viviana Hurtado of the Wise Latina Club website is fed up with Vergara. She remarked Wednesday on the NPR show "Tell Me More":

"Sofia Vergara is constantly in character, and her accent is part of the character, as is the way she dresses--voluptuous, and I think truthfully I have a really big problem with her and I've written on her a lot because I think she does more to damage any views that the mainstream has about Latina women by playing up--and very lucratively I may add because she's got contracts with KMART, with Cover Girl, with Pepsi, to name a few--and she's cashing to the bank with these stereotypes."

What prompted Hurtado to make such an assessment of Vergara? The actress appears in a new Cover Girl commercial with Ellen Degeneres in which the two entertainers not only tout makeup but also have a worrisome ethnic exchange. It starts when Degeneres steals one of Vergara's lines. Vergara objects and Degeneres responds, "Well, no one can understand you," as if Vergara's Colombian accent makes her English indecipherable. Degeneres also mocks Vergara's English by speaking gibberish after Vergara rather intentionally blurs her words together.

I get that these lines were supposed to be funny and know some of you will write me off as being too PC, but even setting my PCness aside, I just don't find Degeneres' quips amusing. To me, it's such old hat. I mean, how many times did Lucille Ball make accent jokes at Desi Arnaz's expense in "I Love Lucy?" The whole thing is so 60 years ago. I'm over it, as are many Latinos. Sofia Vergara isn't one of them, though.

She remarked during a Daily Beast interview, "I don't see anything bad about being stereotyped as a Latin woman. We are yellers, we're pretty, we're sexy, and we're scandalous. I am not scared of the stereotypes."


March 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm
(1) Veronica says:

Well, I see something bad–in fact, I see LOTS of things bad–with stereotyping Latinas and all Latinos in general. At a time when the majority of this country is treating us as worse than second-class citizens, we don’t need any more stereotypical, demeaning images of us splashed across our TV and movie screens. Sofia Vergara isn’t making it any better.

March 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm
(2) ME says:

so i guess we are to dismiss the fact that a man of your kind killed a child. For crying out Veronica shut up! and in your world stop thinking your race and accept the fact that a kid was killed. And yes he is a kid because he was only 17 and that bastard was 28 SHAME ON HIM FOR BEING A GROWN ASS BULLY! if that was your child or your brother or your sistercrying for thie life but failed, the last thing you should be thinking is race you want that murderer of what planet dead! I am so tired of people like you talking the way you are i guess because he is mexican and so are you we should dismiss the fact that this boy was killed. so tell me veronica, what sort of justice does Trayvon deserve since the blogger is making it worse for you! Look I have a kid and if this was to happen to him I dont care where that idiot is from, I will not eat or sleep until that idiot is thrown in jail and let the jail birds there do him in. That fool is not in jail because he knows he will be executed by those inmates

April 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm
(3) Kristin says:

WHOA. Veronica has nothing to do with George Zimmerman. You can’t dismiss the fact that Latinos are discriminated against every day, just as Blacks are. Trying to link all Latinos to the actions of Zimmerman is disgusting.

April 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm
(4) Veronica says:

To ME (whoever you are): No, I will NOT SHUT UP!! As long as people like you keep demonizing us, I will keep speaking out until you see the error of your ways and your thinking, which, judging from the looks of it, doesn’t appear to be happening anytime in the next year or even the next three centuries.

June 22, 2012 at 8:10 pm
(5) overit says:

I am so tired of Latinos complaining about their lot in this country!
why are latinos always complaining?
I understand why African Americans complain — they were enslaved!!
This group deserves reparations and a national apology. but latinos — no way- stop complaining. you refuse to assimilate. insist on maintaining your mother tongue. refuse to fill out a census. you never want to pay your fair share — you all act like America owes you some thing. you want everything for free – welfare, schools & medical — and you get it!

November 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm
(6) honey b says:

U have too learn that sofia vergara is Colombian not Mexican. All colombianan woman are annoying, arrogant, loud, and uneducated. Not all Latin counteries are loud. She not stereotypeing, she acting the way a Colombian woman acts. She also stated that Gloria the caracter is Colombian.

January 17, 2013 at 11:44 pm
(7) Offended. says:

Repeat that, honey? Oh, if you want to say ALL Colombian womEn are uneducated first check your English, and stop generalizing, each person is different. How many times have you been living in Colombia? Let me see… hmm… the Carnival week? HA! This is absurd and pathetic. Woah, “She not stereotypeing, she acting the way a Colombian woman acts.” YOU are stereotyping, my dear, and failing miserably at making a coherent comment.

May 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm
(8) Che was an idiot says:

All of you should take a chill pill! If race is all you think about, then you must have miserable lives! It’s people like you that keep racism alive. Vergara is an actress and she’ll do anything for the almighty dollar, even perpetuate a stereotype. As for Trayvon, do you think that strength only enters a mail when he turns 18? Seriously, do you think physiology is bound by a government defined perameter such as age? He was a large 17 year old thug. Funny how you’ll lean on what the law defines as a minor when it comes to him, but I’m sure if something like this were to have happened at the hands of a minor, you’d be screaming “try him as an adult!”

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November 24, 2013 at 5:00 pm
(11) G says:

@ “ME” : Look dude, I hate Zimmerman as much as the next guy, but you cannot lump him in with all latinos. In fact, part of the reason he was treated as the “hero” of the story was because he was white-identifiying, and american culture is unfortunately anti-black. So the problem our stupid ass society has is the fact that black bodies are demonized and as long as you are against black people, you have the support of a white supremacist society. That being said, it is a white supremacist society above all else, which means ALL people of color suffer, thus turning around and blaming “mexicans” for one racist asshat is doing nothing. I want Zimmerman locked up, but I also recognize that that is not the only thing that needs to be fixed. SO how about instead of blaming all “mexicans”, you figure out why you feel the need to turn on another marginalized race.

December 11, 2013 at 11:49 pm
(12) Surgirl says:

The human heart is never satisfied. No matter what strides people make in life, others will try to tear them down. She is a successful latina woman. You should be proud of her. She is not perpetuating stereotypes. She is being who she is. My sister is the stereotypical dumb blonde who literally can only have conversations about shoes and shopping. She IS the stereotype. Stereotypes exist because there is truth in them, not for all people of a group but for some. If my sister was famous people might say she is perpetuating a stereotype and I would tell them absolutely not. That’s really how she is. There are women like her. She is that woman. There are plenty of other role models who are nothing like her. On American TV and movies she isn’t that common. Watch spanish language TV and women like her are all over the place. So if you want to get angry at someone, get angry at your own programming.

December 13, 2013 at 9:20 pm
(13) Really? says:

@overit are you serious? Why the hell should latinos assimilate, we come to a different country big deal, so this means we have to change and completely ignore our culture and heritage to make you more comfortable. Americans feel perfectly comfortable speaking English in other countries (some not all, but most) but god forbid we speak the most widely spoken language in the world because thats so incredibly absurd, especially in a country called the melting pot and formed from immigrants. By the by why would the country apologize to all african americans, you do realize all the people that were slaves are probably long dead now right? If you think this country hasnt done stuff to latinos, take a little lookie in your history book because this country has pretty much messed with everyone who wasnt white, in fact no you guys screwed with white people too. Just a tip, if you’re going to be this stupid, dont tell people you’re American, you arent helping your country’s stereotypes either.

May 15, 2014 at 7:23 pm
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