Colombia's sexiest export Sofia Vergara is flying high in Hollywood and taking to the skies in this spring's Soul Plane. Is this the start of a Latin-bombshell revolution?

This feature originally appeared in Complex's April/May 2004 issue.

Bet you wish you were one of these valets. Another party on Sunset Boully is winding down, and a bunch of celebrities are waiting impatiently for their cars outside the club. The guys on parking detail, suited up in ill-fitting polyester uniforms, are scrambling to get a piece of A-list action—’cause everyone knows that’s where the big tips are at. Except, in this instance, the last thing on the valets’ minds is the cash, and this particular car’s not even that banging. No, like any hot-blooded male, these guys just want to catch a glimpse of the ride’s owner, a leggy girl with feline eyes and sun-kissed skin. The scenario is not that uncommon for 32-year-old model-turned-actress Sofia Vergara, who totally gets that her fortunate appearance has its pluses.

"I get to do no lines," she says. "In L.A., I’ve gone to nightclubs where Justin Timberlake and people like that are waiting for their cars, and I’ll come out and be the first to get mine." It’s not like she’s ever going to go home with a valet. But as Michael Rappaport’s character in the film Beautiful Girls put it: "A beautiful girl is like bottled promise.” Right––fantasy is a powerful force. So powerful that in this world, or at least in Hollywood, beauty equals privilege. It’s not just Vergara’s effervescent personality that’s earned her a string of professional opportunities. Sure, she’s always been committed to her endeavors, but there’s no denying that her good looks have played a part in her success.

Consider the time when a 17-year-old Vergara was back home in Colombia walking on the beach with her mom. (Now would be a good time to check out Complex’s photo shoot with the bountiful bombshell…. OK, you get the picture.) A famed photographer spotted her, one thing led to another, and Vergara ended up scoring a gig on a Pepsi commercial. But the nuns at her Catholic school didn’t take too well to the sexually loaded ad, and Sofia was forced to put her modeling aspirations on hold. Luckily for Colombia’s male contingent, it was only a matter of time before she resurfaced, appearing in a string of runway shows and TV spots.

One such job led to an offer from Colombian broadcasting giant Univision to host the lighthearted, Miami-based travel show Fuera De Serie. Four years later, at age 27, she moved on to Univision’s A Que No Te Atreves, a Fear Factor–type reality series in which regular people perform ludicrous acts. "People only got paid like $50, so it was crazy to see what they would do," she says mischievously. "One time a guy jumped out of a plane naked. Another time, this girl came on set and put huge cockroaches in her bra and underpants." Not that every viewer tuned in for the stunts––Sofia’s skimpy, hip-hugging outfits were reason enough for most men to watch every week.

Spanish-language networks are often criticized for their overly sexualized portrayal of women—after all, the ass-pinching, hot-tubbing antics of most variety shows are pretty much all they have going for them as far as content. Did Sofia ever feel as if she was being objectified? “Not really,” she says. “It’s all based on the ratings, so whatever works, we keep on doing it.” But surely constant leering from men must make a girl wanna break bones? “You know, the thing is that Latin men like sexy stuff.” Erm, make that all men. Which is probably why Sofia decided to treat her fans to her own barometer-busting, hot-as-hell website, sofiavergara.com. It’s racy, alright––no wonder it gets an average of 12 million hits each month.

That’s more eyeballs than most chicks’ll catch walking past a lifetime’s worth of construction sites, but Vergara’s so comfortable with her sexuality that she doesn’t seem to mind. She’s also perfectly content to bear the nickname Sofia Viagra, as she’s affectionately known throughout Latin America (word to her unofficial sponsor Pfizer). In fact, it was a joke about her va-va-va-voomness that jump-started her film career. As a presenter at the 2001 American Comedy Awards, she unleashed a roar of laughter from the audience when she flirtatiously asked Austin Powers creator Mike Myers, "Do I make you horny, baby?" Days later, director Barry Sonnenfeld (of Men In Black fame) heard about the sultry model’s quip from producer Barry Josephson and invited her to New York to read for a part in their 2002 comedy-thriller Big Trouble. Cast alongside Tim Allen, Rene Russo, Stanley Tucci, Johnny Knoxville, Heavy D and Omar Epps, Sofia became the next potential Latin crossover star, and she remains grateful to Josephson: "I owe my being in acting to him, because he made me discover in myself something that I didn't know I was interested in."

Where are the struggling- actor stories about callus-inducing waitress jobs, closet-sized apartments, embarrassing auditions and ramen-noodle dinners? Sofia’s penchant for lucky breaks is enviable and almost unnerving, but it’s hard to dislike someone with such an optimistic, anything-goes outlook. Like Special Ed, this girl's got it made. Now living in L.A. with her 12-year-old son Manolo, Vergara has become a bona fide actress—last year, she joined Roselyn Sanchez and Jaci Velasquez in Chasing Papi, one of the first Latin chick-flicks aimed at the mass market. Next up is a role as a stewardess in Soul Plane, a comedy due this month about a black airline’s maiden flight. The cast also includes Kevin Hart, D.L. Hughley, Method Man, Snoop Dogg and Tom Arnold. Jessy Terrero, who directed the spoof, had no trouble getting Vergara to shine on camera. "Girls sometimes, when they’re that beautiful, have been spoiled throughout life by men, and they’re usually lazy in terms of the effort they give," he says candidly. "But Sofia worked really hard in this film—that’s why we expanded her character and gave her more love."

For her part, Vergara says she enjoyed the time on set with her costars, particularly Meth: "He’s a very nice guy. Really crazy." But the self-proclaimed hip-hop fan spends more time working with rap stars these days than hanging out with them; instead of accompanying her homegirls to Mark Ronson parties, this single mom is more likely to be rolling with Manolo to the local video game arcade.

"The arcade is like my office!" she admits. Wow, a woman who can go toe-to-toe with Max Payne and Lara Croft––if that’s not dream-girl-central, we don’t know what is. No wonder Vergara’s been romantically linked to a host of eligible bachelors, including British crooner Craig David, ballplayer Alex Rodriguez, rap mogul Sean Combs and actor Mark Wahlberg. Asked what her favorite dating activity is, she coos, "I love salsa and merengue." So, potential suitors beware: you will be expected to do more than a half-assed two-step. Would she go on a second date with a man who can’t dance? Sofia smiles, then lowers her voice coquettishly: "He’d better dance!" Your wish is our command.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS: (HAIR) Darian Reign/Sager French. (MAKEUP) Veronica Laurence. FIRST & COVER IMAGE: Top by Curve / Bloomers by Le Petite Coquette / Shoes by Stella McCartney. SECOND IMAGE: Tank by Gucci. THIRD IMAGE: Tank by James Perse / Brooch by Vionet, LA. FOURTH IMAGE: Dress by Petro Zilla.