Q. Your character Gloria is a very, um, enthusiastic mother. Are you anything like her?
A. There are too many similarities to count! We're both from Colombia and have strong accents that people can't always understand. We have sons from previous marriages—old souls who are wise beyond their years. The bottom line is we're Latin women and protective of our kids. We love them so much—but sometimes we drive them crazy!
Q. Like when people mistake you for being Manolo's girlfriend? You look young for having a 20-year-old.
A. Yes, he gets so mad! But there's nothing wrong with being attractive.
Q. Is that why you're launching a clothing line for Kmart this fall?
A. Exactly—I think women should feel good about themselves. My line has miniskirts, dresses, jeggings and a leopard bustier.
Q. Does Manolo ever ask you to tone down your sexiness?
A. He used to. Once he told me to "dress like a mom" when I was on my way to a teacher conference! And when his friends are around I make sure to wear T-shirts and jeans—nothing risqué.
Q. He just left for college to study film. Is it a happy milestone for you, or is it a little sad?
A. Both. Kids don't understand that it's a big deal for parents too. The hardest part is letting go and knowing I can't always be there to supervise. Texting is the next best thing. Even if he doesn't respond right away, I feel like we're still connected.
Q. You've said you support his dream of becoming a director—does that mean you let him cast you in home movies?
A. Yes, but he never gave me speaking parts! I was always the getaway driver or whatever he couldn't get anyone else to do. Believe it or not, my son has been bossing me around his entire life. I'm used to it!
How You Know Her: Aside from her hit role in Modern Family, Sofia recently starred in the big-screen version of The Smurfs. She and Manolo have also appeared together in a "Got Milk?" ad.
Her Big Break: At 17 Sofia was spotted on a beach in Colombia and cast in a Pepsi commercial. (She's also in one now.) When she was 22 she came to the U.S. to host shows for the Spanish-language network Univision.
Colorful Surprise: Sofia's a natural blonde. "Everyone in my family has blond hair and blue eyes. When I came to Hollywood they didn't know what to do with me. As soon as I dyed my hair, I started getting Latina roles."
Pearly Whites: "Before becoming an actress I was in dental school, so I'm obsessed with teeth! I make Manolo get a cleaning every three months."
Deep Roots: "I raised Manolo mostly in Miami and Los Angeles, but he knows his Colombian side too. We visit his dad and my family in Colombia twice a year."
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.