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ATX Exclusive Interview with Ugly Betty’s Tony Plana

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This past weekend (June 9-12 2016) ATX Festival hosted a ten-year Ugly Betty reunion where Talk Nerdy With Us had the honor to chat with Tony Plana. You may remember Tony as Ignacio Suarez, or Betty’s dad on the show. Since Ugly Betty, Tony has gone on to shoot many shows including Desperate Housewives, Alpha House, The Fosters, Madam Secretary and more! Read our interview with Tony below as we discuss his thoughts on the reunion, what the show meant to him, and more!

How does it feel to be back together with your TV family again?

It feels amazing. I mean there’s so much joy and just wonderful memories. It’s going to be hard to separate. I hope that we have more Ugly Betty to do. We’ve all said that we would love to come back together in some sort of movie or short mini-series. Something like that. I always felt that the show was truncated, and was not allowed to complete its stories in an elegant and organic way. That ABC pulled the plug too early. I’m hoping that we get a chance to come back and finish all these stories that we’re forced to close too quickly.

If it ever did come back, what storyline do you hope would happen? What would you look forward to most with that?

You know, I think what would really be powerful is to see what happens in my family. In Latino families especially, children don’t go away. Whatever they’re doing professionally, whatever stage they are in life, the father would be involved. He would be there. I would be going to the store, or getting groceries for them. I would be ironing their clothes, I would still be there. You know what I mean? Babysitting the children or daycare! I’d love to see an Ignacio’s daycare, yeah know? I’d love to see the Suarez family still together. No matter what they’re doing. They’d still be very much involved, very supportive, very interconnected. I think that’s how families need to remain.

Especially with Justin and whatever he’d be doing. He’d likely be graduating from college by now from NYU. Starting a new career and Betty would do something in London or we’d be going to London or we’d be moving back.  Hilda would be running her business and I’d be helping her with her business. Whatever business she started. A beauty salon. There would be a chain of salons. It could all kinds of fun things.

Do you have a favorite memory from filming?

I think the episode where my character is allowed to tell the truth about his legal status is my favorite. I still have that speech that I give to my daughters on my demo reel. I’m so proud of it. It’s so powerful. I think it’s one of my best performances in a long career. I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years now and I just never forget that episode and how emotional it was for all of us. For them. To talk about the mother and to talk about the glue that really keeps the family together. Yeah, that.

In that episode, we were able to put a human face, or human faces on a family with an undocumented person. How it impacts that family. How deeply painful that separation turned out to be and how important that story was. Especially to be played out during a time when Congress was unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Everybody was talking about immigrants as statistics. 14 million and so many this and that… We kind of put a human face and a human dimension on that issue.

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