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Golden Globe winner America Ferrera is on top of the world with her "Ugly Betty" success, but life wasn't always so pleasant for the 22-year-old actress.
America, who plays Betty Suarez on the hit ABC show, says acting helped her survive a turbulent childhood with her Honduran-born parents.
"I'd spend hours in my room blocking out their screams by acting out plays in my head," said America. "Acting was all I ever wanted to do."
America, who took home a Golden Globe in mid-January for best actress in a comedy, began starring in school plays and community theater productions close to her home in Los Angeles when she was 8.
When her parents divorced, her father returned to Honduras and her mother raised America and her five siblings while working as a Hilton hotel executive.
"There was so much love and so much attention placed on what we did have," said America, recalling her childhood, "but by no means did we have it easy."
America also revealed how she struggled with her appearance.
"I'd look in the mirror and cry, thinking I was too fat," she admitted. "But today I feel beautiful and far from the ugly duckling I appear to be on screen."
The actress hopes her role as a frumpy secretary will help other young women become confident with their body image.
"To me, Betty is an opportunity to represent a generation of young women who don't recognize themselves on anything they are watching," she explained.
"I'm not a model, I'm a normal human being.
"I have days when I feel like I'm queen of the universe, and others when I feel as though I just want to crawl back into bed because I feel gross."
By ALEXANDER HITCHEN