Sofia Vergara opened up about the personal and professional challenges that she has faced over the past year.
The 51-year-old actress referenced her highly publicized divorce from her husband Joe Maganiello and the SAG-AFTRA strike while reflecting on her experiences in 2023.
“I’ve had a very interesting year,” Vergara told People magazine. “I don’t want to say ‘bad’ or anything like that, but it’s been very interesting and very difficult.”
“I went through a divorce this year, the SAG strike that went on for so long,” the “Modern Family” alum continued.
In July, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) joined the Writer’s Guild of America in their strike against the studios, streaming services and production companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which marked the first time that both unions had been on strike simultaneously in six decades.
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Actors were asking for increased minimum pay rates, increased streaming residuals and guarantees from studio and production companies about the use of artificial intelligence.
The SAG-AFTRA strike, which halted film and TV productions and left thousands of people unemployed for months, ended after 118 days in early November.
“I’ve seen my friends struggle — some had to take their kids out of their schools or had problems with their mortgages, so it’s been a weird, weird year,” Vergara told People.
Despite the difficulties of the past year, Vergara told People that she was optimistic about the future.
“It’s not like it’s bad,” the actress added. “I think all the things are resolving, everything is going to be okay and I’m very excited for next year.”
Shortly after the SAG-AFTRA strike began, Vergara and Manganiello, 46, announced that they were divorcing after 7 years of marriage.
“We have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the two wrote in a joint statement to Page Six at the time. “As two people that love and care for one another very much, we politely ask for respect of our privacy at this time as we navigate this new phase of our lives.”
The former couple met in 2014 at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which Vergara attended with her then-fiance Nick Loeb. Manganiello and Vergara began dating after her engagement to Loeb ended and they went on to tie the knot in November 2015.
The “Magic Mike” star filed for divorce from the Colombia native on July 19, two days after the split was announced. Vegara responded to her estranged husband’s divorce filing requesting the court uphold the couple’s premarital agreement in documents filed on July 26 and obtained by Fox News Digital. Per the documents, Vergara and Mangniello’s date of separation was listed as July 2.
Both Vergara and Manganiello cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce.
After the former couple’s split was announced, a source told People magazine that Vergara and Manganiello “always put on a good front publicly,” but weathered through “ups and downs for a long time.”
“They’d be fighting or bickering, but then plaster on smiles when others were looking,” the insider said.
“Their physical attraction to each other only carried their marriage that far,” another source told the outlet.
The source continued, “On a day-to-day basis, there are so many other things that need to work. There were several things that didn’t work.”
Prior to announcing their divorce, the duo had sparked speculation of marital troubles when Vergara celebrated her 51st birthday on July 10 during a girls’ trip to Capri, Italy without Manganiello. Fans also pointed out that the actor’s birthday tribute to his wife was notably less affectionate than in previous years.
In late August, Vergara returned to the judges’ table alongside Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel on “America’s Got Talent.”
During the live show on Aug. 22, Mandel poked fun at Vergara’s newly single status. The comedian’s joke came when he offered a “piece of advice” to a contestant.
“If you’re looking for eligible bachelors, you should’ve talked to Sofía, because she’s in the market right now.” Mandel quipped.
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While Vergara appeared to take the joke in stride as she cheered and threw her hands in the air, host Terry Crews intervened, exclaiming, “No, we’re not doing that here!”
After Mandel was met with backlash from fans, the former “Deal or No Deal” host defended himself in an interview with Extra.
“People were online saying, ‘Too soon.’ I think as soon as you’re available, it’s never too soon. She’s fresh, people,” Mandel said.
He continued, “People thought that was mean and insensitive. If you watched Sofía, she screamed after she came over to me and thought it was funny. She said, ‘Yes,’ so she’s got a great sense of humor, and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt a fellow — a friend first, and a fellow co-worker.”
When asked who he believes would be the best suitor for Vergara, Mandel replied, “I think everybody watching who is available believes they’re the perfect match for Sofía. I don’t think, Sofía, to be honest . . . she doesn’t need my help.”
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He added, “She really doesn’t. I believe that she’ll be fending them off. I mean, she is a great friend, a brilliant person, businessperson, a powerhouse, an amazing sense of humor. She checks every box, so whoever ends up with Sofía is going to be really, really lucky.”
“Let’s try and do it by the end of the season,” Howie teased. “We’ll find her a match and leave it to America to vote.”
Mandel later doubled down on his decision to joke about his fellow judge’s relationship status, explaining to Fox News Digital why the joke was appropriate.
“I loved it. I loved my Sofia joke. And a lot of people hated me online, I don’t know why. They said it was too soon, to make a joke about her being single. I think last year was too soon. I think the minute Joe left the house, that’s the time to advertise. That’s just my opinion,” Mandel said.
In September, Vergara shared how she was embracing the single life after her divorce. The actress told Entertainment Tonight that she was “trying to have fun” and raved about attending the concerts of Beyoncé, Karol G and Taylor Swift.
“I’ve been lucky!” Vergara exclaimed when asked about her recent outings. “People have been inviting me out, you know, trying to have fun. So I’ve been going everywhere they invite me.”
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The four-time Emmy Award nominee also recently embarked on a new romance, Over the past couple of months, Vergara has been spotted out on dates with Beverly Hills-based orthopedic surgeon Justin Saliman. The two were first photographed enjoying a dinner in Beverly Hills in late October.
A source recently told Entertainment Tonight that “things are going great” between Vergara and Saliman.
“They like each other a lot, but Sofia is also taking things slow,” the insider explained. “Sofia and Justin have a lot of fun together and Sofia always keeps everyone around her laughing and in positive spirits. Justin likes that she takes pride in keeping her personal life private, that she’s up front and honest, and that she can be her genuine self with him.”
The source added that the actress’s family and friends “just want her to be happy.”
“They have been a good support system and are always uplifting her and reminding her of her own inner strength,” the insider said.
The source noted that Vergara is “in a healthy space and feeling good about where her personal and professional life both stand.”
“Sofia is striving to be the best person she can be and focused on learning from the past in order to create a better and more fruitful future,” the source told ET.
The source explained that Vergara has taken a positive approached to her split with Manganiello and is “feeling empowered that she can close the previous chapter in her life without any animosity.”
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“Joe and Sofia have both accepted that they’re moving on and it’s a very mutual feeling,” the insider said. “They equally wish each other well.”
Manganiello also appears to have moved on from their marriage. The “True Blood” alum has been romantically linked to actress Caitlyn O’Connor, 33, since September.
During her interview with People magazine, Vergara shared her thoughts on whether 2024 would be a “fresh start” for her.
“I hope so,” she said. “I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a fresh start at 51.”
“I don’t know if I’m fresh anymore, but I’m just excited,” Vergara added.