First came comedy. Now there's notoriety. In a new limited series, Sofia Vergara plays a real-life Colombian drug kingpin.

When Sofia Vergara invited the ''Narcos'' showrunner Eric Newman to her home in Los Angeles in 2015 to pitch a TV show about the Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, she had done her research.

'' I watch the ' Cocaine Cowboys ' documentary in 2006, and I was like, '' Wow this character has so many layers,' '' Vergara, 51, said of Blanco, the kingpin who was suspected of being involved in more than 200 murders before being shot and killed in her hometown, Medellin, in 2012 at age 69.

The facts of Blanco life, the murders, kidnappings, the tense backroom meetings with drug bosses -hardly needed embellishment for TV. But what had so hooked Vergara, she said, was the idea that ''this innocuous looking woman was raising four kids while building this insane, brutal empire.''

She knew it would be a tougher sell to persuade people that after a little over half a decade portraying the fun-loving mother Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the ABC sitcom '' Modern Family,'' Vergara was the right person to play the cut-throat Blanco.

'' I was like, ' What are the odds that this guy is going to think that Gloria Pritchett can play this  [expletive] ruthless, crazy character?' '' Vergara, who is Colombian, said in a recent phone conversation from London.

But her passion for the material, her biographical overlap with Blanco and her confidence convinced Newman - and soon the Colombian director Andres Baiz, who worked with Newman on Netflix's Medellin cartel series, '' Narcos'' - that she could pull it off.

Both, Baiz said, were driven, ambitious women who had immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia and ascended to the top of their industries. Both had grown up '' in a misogynist culture. Both, Baiz said, shared '' an unstoppable, fierce quality.''

The World Students Society thanks Sarah Bahr.


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