America Ferrera Said She ‘Wasted Time’ on Diets During ‘Ugly Betty’ Days

Ugly Betty made it possible for America Ferrera to thrive as she is today. The role helped the actor come into her own and solidified her name in entertainment. However, she faced criticism over her weight for years. Ferrera has since come a long way, but she said she “wasted time” on diets early in her career.

America Ferrera made history with ‘Ugly Betty’

america ferrera diet
America Ferrera attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards nominations announcement held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 10, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Ferrera got her first TV movie role in 2002 when she appeared in Gotta Kick It Up! Her feature film debut came later that year, appearing in Real Women Have Curves, a role that earned her critical acclaim. She then had roles in films like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Her breakthrough came in 2006 when executive producer Salma Hayek approached her for the title role in Ugly Betty. She earned much acclaim for it. In 2007, Ferrera garnered several awards, including becoming the first Latina woman to win the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in A Comedy Series.

Ugly Betty gave Ferrera a lot of exposure and helped her land more roles. She lent her voice to the animated How to Train Your Dragon franchise and appeared in the musical Chicago. Ferrera gained further recognition for her lead role in the comedy series Superstore.

America Ferrera wasted time on diets

While it was once standard practice for actors to repeatedly diet their way to the smallest sizes, in recent years, various celebrities have condemned diet culture as misleading and dangerous. However, Ferrera worked to keep up with industry standards early in her career. In 2012, she told Us Weekly how the practice affected her. 

“More often than not, I hate photo shoots and I hate being on the red carpet,” she explained. “I don’t think I’m very well equipped for the scrutiny or the pressure to be perfect and I don’t think anyone really is.”

Ferrera continued, saying she “wasted time” on “diets and what I look like.” She felt less than anytime people would compliment her and her work. “People are saying, ‘We love you and love what you do.’ And you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I’m not skinny enough or pretty enough,'” the actor noted.

She acknowledged that getting over such beliefs took a lot of time and work. The star urged others to focus more on their talents and contributions to society instead of “what the h*** your butt looks like in those jeans.”

Ferrera felt she didn’t deserve her Emmy

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In 2020, Ferrera sat down with Dax Shepherd for his Armchair Expert podcast. She recalled having low self-esteem during her Ugly Betty days, which affected her historic Emmy win. “When I won the Emmy, I can’t bring myself to go back and watch that because the only thing I remember about being on that stage, accepting that Emmy, was feeling that no one in the room thought I deserved it,” the actor said.

Ferrera explained that even those in her life perpetuated that narrative and made her feel she didn’t deserve her win. “When I look back at that time, my heart aches for that 22-year-old girl who didn’t get to really enjoy those moments.” Today Ferrera is hell-bent on creating “more opportunity for little brown girls to fulfill their talent and their dream.”