In July 2002, Ferrera made her first TV movie, Gotta Kick It Up! for The Disney Channel. That same year then her uncle died, she made her feature film debut in the indie sleeper hit Real Women Have Curves. Ferrera followed this with roles in both television (Touched by an Angel) and film (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Lords of Dogtown). Ferrera received a 2005 Movieline Breakthrough Award. In December 2005, she appeared in the off-Broadway play Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, directed by Trip Cullman.
She landed the lead role of Betty in Ugly Betty in 2006. Ugly Betty is an adaptation of the Colombian hit telenovela Betty La Fea, in which she portrays a girl whom her peers find extremely unattractive, thus the series title. As Betty Suarez, Ferrera wears braces, has bushy eyebrows and a disheveled wig, and make-up and clothing intended to downplay her own looks, in contrast to most of the "glammed up" characters; Ferrera herself coined the term “Bettification” to describe the process of creating her onscreen persona.
For her role in Ugly Betty, Ferrera won the 2007 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical, beating out fellow nominees Marcia Cross, Felicity Huffman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mary-Louise Parker. As a result of the award, she was congratulated by the U.S. House of Representatives as being a role model for young Hispanics. On 28 January, 2007, Ferrera won the prestigious Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series. She also starred in and was the executive producer for the poignant short film Muertas.
In 2007, Time Magazine chose Ferrera as one of the top artists and entertainers in their “Time 100: The Most Influential People In The World” issue. In July 2007, America Ferrera also won Imagen Foundation’s Creative Achievement Award.
On September 16, 2007, Ferrera won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series for her role of Betty Suarez on ABC’s Ugly Betty. In the summer of 2007, she wrapped filming on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, the sequel to the 2005 film The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants as Carmen. She also is the voice of one of the nature fairies in Tinkerbell (2008). As of May 2009, she is filming a movie in Albuquerque, New Mexico and west Texas called American Tragic or The Dry Land.
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