Few aspiring actresses could ever hope to experience the early career success of Ugly Betty starlet America Ferrera. In the scant four years after earning a Sundance Jury Award, an Independent Spirit Award nomination, and a Young Artist Award nomination for her role as a first-generation Mexican-American girl teetering on the cusp of womanhood for Real Women Have Curves, the hardworking actress rose quickly through the ranks to become one of television's brightest young stars.
A Los Angeles native and the youngest of six siblings born to Honduran parents, Ferrera was raised by her mother in Woodland Hills, CA. Though at first hesitant to pursue a career on camera, the natural-born actress and high school valedictorian displayed an instinctive talent on the stage that seemed to signal she had found her true calling. It was during this time that Ferrera began working as a waitress to fund her classes and pay for headshots, and shortly thereafter she made her screen debut as a cheerleader in the Disney Channel feature Gotta Kick It Up! (2002). Later, while attending summer theater camp at Northwestern University, Ferrera taped an audition for Real Women Have Curves; after six auditions, she was ecstatic to learn that she had been cast as first-generation American Ana Garcia. It was the perfect role for the emerging actress, as she too was among the first of her family to be born in America.