America Ferrera says it takes hours to make her look ugly. The actress, who plays dowdy Betty Suarez in US TV show “Ugly Betty,” insists her transformation into the frumpy assistant takes a lot of effort. She said, “Yes, people are surprised when they see I’m not like Betty in real life. Everyone knows that the power of good make-up, careful lighting and professional grooming can enhance beauty, but they don’t realise that you need all that to make yourself look, well, as ugly as Betty! The process takes more than an hour. I have my wig and the braces and the glasses and, of course, Betty’s outfit.”

America has found it easy to identify with her character – whose sense of style is ridiculed by her co-workers at Mode fashion magazine – because she has also struggled to be accepted by her peers. The 25-year-old star was born to Honduran immigrants and didn’t feel like she fitted in at school or in her neighbourhood when she was growing up.

She explained in an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper, “I’ve felt like an outsider and a big part of that had to do with not knowing who I was – am I Latin or am I American? High school was about hiding the things that made me different. I lived in a mostly white neighbourhood – most of the boys were Jewish, and their parents would not let them mix with somebody like me, a Catholic. At times I’ve thought, ‘Where do I fit in and where am I ever at home?’ So that feeling Betty has of trying to find a place in the world happens to me daily and I think everyone knows what that feels like.”