Betty Suarez may be the most lovable character on television, but her big sis Hilda is the one we want to hang with over shots of tequila, dishing on the latest chismes from the block. Ana Ortiz, who plays Hilda on the hit show Ugly Betty, shares a lot with her on-screen persona: a candid way of speaking, a zest for life, and a strong attachment to her family and her roots. The gorgeous Puerto Rican star spoke exclusively to Latina about getting through the toughest years of her life, only to find herself surrounded by successful, love and a delirious sense of happiness.
On her days of bartending to pay the bills between acting gigs:
"Drew Barrymore is a great tipper. 100 percent of the bill, both times I served her."
On her overnight success:
"Overnight success is 10 years of getting rejected. You don't know how many times I heard from an agent, 'Gosh, Ana is such a good actress, but for this role, we need someone who is drop-dead gorgeous.' Well, if I'm no the flyest actress, I'm definitely going to be the best."
On working with Salma Hayek:
"She's such a powerhouse. But she's also the most positive, pro-female person ever. And now that she's had a baby? Forget it."
On not believing she would ever make it in Hollywood:
I kept the boxes for everything I had, because I knew I was going to have to pack up and go back to New York.
On meeting her husband, Noah:
"I had come out of these worst relationship on Earth. The worst. The worst. Like, restraining order bad. It was awful and I was done. I figured, 'I can have a baby on my own, I can be a single mother. No big deal.' Then, [Noah and I] got set up by one of my friends from high school. We had a really wonderful dinner,and then I went home [to New York] for two weeks and I didn’t call him. He proceeded to court me. Pick me up, made reservations. And we took it so slowly, it was amazing."
On what the Suarez family represents:
"We’re your neightbor, we’re your teacher, we’re your friends, we’re your schoolmates, were the family down the block going throught the same problems, paycheck to paycheck. I love the way [Ugly Betty co-creator] Silvio Horta writes it as the American experience. He doesn’t necessarily comment on it judge it. It just is what it is. So its not like there’s a solution. This is their experience. This is what they’re going through."
On her kinship with America Ferrera:
"We just connected immediately and became really close right away. And it was so natural. We bug out on set. We're constantly messing with each other, like sisters…it's the most real relationship I've had in acting, ever."
On being proud of her Puerto Rican roots:
"People told me I should change my name. No way. It’s my fathers name, it's my grandmother’s name. It's who I am. I love being Puerto Rican. My goal is to be good enough that you can cast me in the white role, and if you have to change it, change it."
To read more of our interview with Ana
Ortiz, pick up the May issue of