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Dream Big with Ana Ortiz from Ugly Betty

Ugly Betty made Ana Ortiz's dream at 15 come true!

By Tammy Tibbetts

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Ana Ortiz has won awards (and our hearts!) playing Hilda Suarez, Ugly Betty’s big sis. We asked her how she celebrated her 15th and her recent wedding. And she tells us what Hilda’s quince would have been like!

q:How did you celebrate turning 15?
a:I went on a sailboat with eight other kids and we learned how to sail and to work as a team. We went to all these different islands and it was a really exciting time. I had just turned 15 and it was really my first little bit of independence. It’s one of my most treasured memories.

q:You just got married in June. Congratulations! A wedding is not much different from a quinceañera. I read that you let your dad plan a lot of your wedding. True?
a:I think he started to plan at first. He really wanted to be involved a lot. He wanted to roast a pig! I was like "Okay, wait a minute, wait a minute, we’re at this beautiful hotel, I don’t think we’ll be able to do that!" I ended up working with this wonderful woman named Lisa Blade — her company is called In Any Event. She really was my main go-to. She included my dad on a lot of stuff. We got married in Puerto Rico, so she needed his insight on the island.

q:Were there any last-minute disasters that came up?
a:We were so blessed. I almost could not believe it went off without a hitch. I think the closest thing to a disaster was that as we were having dinner, the band was setting up outside and they blew every circuit in the hotel! They had to run and get this generator. Emergency averted — everything went great after that. I was really lucky. It’s just been the best year ever. So for me to at any point just freak out or complain, I didn’t have time to do it. I have a really amazing support system of friends and family who kept me so protected. I didn’t even notice the generator!

q:Part of your amazing year was winning Best Supporting Actress at the 2007 ALMA Awards.
a:I still can’t even believe it. It’s such an incredible honor. I remember being young and going to the ALMA Awards with my dad. Being a (Latina) actress, you get so despondent sometimes. It’s like, How many maids can I play? How many more hookers and drug addicts can I play? And I went to the ALMAs that year and I looked around the room filled with the most talented, amazing Latinos, not only in this country but in the world. It was like an energy source that I’ve drawn on for my life. Winning that award a couple of months ago was like a full-circle moment for me. I was like, Forget a bouquet — I’m going to walk down the aisle with this!

q:When you’re getting dressed up for awards shows, you probably relate to girls picking out a dress for their quinceañera. Do you try on a lot of dresses? How do you know which one is the one?
a:I try on so many dresses. I have been working with this amazing woman and she sort of picks out these dresses and I look at them on the hanger, and I’m like, "Tara, you’re bugging out. There’s no way that’s going to look good!" But it does. I always tell her, bring as many dresses as you want. When you try on a dress, sometimes you just know. Sometimes it’s a question of what the occasion is. For something like the ALMAs you can be a lot more fun and be a lot more daring than you would for something like the Golden Globes. I make a conscious effort to look different from my character on Ugly Betty. I don’t ever want to be too cha-cha because I get to do that at my job, so I can play a different role on the red carpet.

q:If Hilda had a quince when she turned 15, how would you envision it?
a:Oh, it was a party! I’m sure she had a quince, I’m sure of it. Even if it was just her and Betty. I think her dress would have been probably on the sexy side, knowing Hilda, but also pretty traditional. Maybe a strapless, but I think she would have gone for the big fairy-tale skirt. Something romantic. Hilda loves expressing herself through clothes. I think she would have had the tiara, feathers, and sparkles, and matching nails, lots of curls. I think Hilda would have been the equivalent of a bridezilla. I think she would have been very demanding.

q:When you were 15, what was your dream?
a:You know, I think I’m living it. At 15, I definitely wanted to be an actress. I had gone to LaGuardia High School [in NYC] for music and the performing arts, and I was singing ... I remember at one point I got on stage and I did a play, and I was like, Click, got it, this is it. From then on, this has been my goal.... I thought I would have had kids by now, but I’m glad that this worked out the way that it has. I’m looking forward to starting a family with my husband. Everything seems right. I’m surrounded by my friends, most of whom I’ve known since 15, and my family. I’m just working on a show that I think is not only so fun and so incredible, but I think it’s an important show. It’s more than I can express in words.
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