The Newest in New
Ugly Betty, airing Thursdays on ABC, follows Betty Suarez, who lands a job as the assistant to the editor-in-chief of ultra chic fashion magazine Mode. With red glasses and a mouthful of braces, Betty struggles in the often ugly world of beautiful people.
The show, based on a Colombian telenovela called Yo Soy Betty La Fea, is already a smash hit in seven other countries. Executive producer Salma Hayek says she couldn't wait to bring it to the United States!
Betty doesn't care about superficial things, says Salma. "All she cares is to do the best that she can and be the best that she can do—and she doesn't care about what anybody says. And she is the smartest person in there and the one you love the most," Salma says. "It's a little bit sarcastic for all those people that think that if you're not skinny and tall and 12, you're ugly."
Even Salma says she can identify with Betty. As a child, Salma was taunted for being short. "I think we all have something that people point out to you, especially when you're growing up," Salma says. "And then you point it out to yourself nonstop," Salma says.
The thing Oprah loves most about the show is that it focuses on true beauty. "This says that everybody is gorgeous in their own way," Oprah says.
Despite her character's seemingly unfashionable appearance, America says playing Betty makes her feel anything but ugly. "It's so funny because when I'm Ugly Betty, when I'm in that character, I feel so beautiful," America says. "And it's that smile with those braces, and the unconditional humanity that this character has. It makes me a better person, I think."
America feels Betty is especially important because she can show a generation of young girls that they have more to offer than just a pretty face. "They forget to realize that they have so much more to offer the world," America says.
His latest role received rave reviews and even has Oscar® buzzin'! The Wall Street Journal says Forest gives "one of the greatest performances of modern movie history." In The Last King of Scotland Forest portrays Idi Amin, the infamous Ugandan dictator who brutally ruled his country from 1971 to 1979 and ordered the slaughter of 300,000 citizens.
Oprah was so impressed by Forest's performance that she's seen The Last King of Scotland three times...and she's only seen The Color Purple twice!
Forest says capturing specific characteristics of Amin were crucial to creating an accurate portrayal. "I started working on the accent," Forest says. "I started working on Kiswahili. I started studying tapes and documentaries—there's a lot of stuff because he really liked the press. I went to Uganda and I met with his brothers and sisters, some of his ministers, generals, and so many other people in Uganda. It wasn't that long ago—it was just in '79—so people have direct experience."
"I didn't want to play a character that would make them feel like I didn't understand their culture, the person, the man, because he's very important to the Ugandans and to the African continent."
The hard work paid off as he captures the complicated, intricate layers of Amin's personality—the showman, the charmer, the decorated warrior, the volatile and murderous paranoid—"in every breath," Oprah says.
Forest says he has been enjoying the praise for his work for one very simple reason. "I hope it makes people go out and see the movie because I feel very proud of it," he says.
After winning three Grammys® for his debut album, Get Lifted—which sold more than 3 million copies worldwide—John's new CD, Once Again, is in stores now.
Here he performs "Save Room," a song off the new album.
And that's exactly what John did. He started work on Once Again more fulfilled and motivated than before. Even with all his high profile success, John says he didn't feel a lot of pressure to create "hits" for his new album.
"To me, it wasn't about hits, it was about making great songs. Every day I would go to the studio and my goal was: Let's try to make a great song and then record it the best way we can," John says. "And you make enough of those, you got a great album."
So how have the Grammys® changed John's life?
"In a lot of ways it hasn't changed. I'm still a musician. I still love to write music. I love to perform and that part of it is the same, except I get to do more now," John says. "I get to do it all the time. I get to do it in front of thousands of people cheering now instead of hundreds. I'm just happier, I think."