Betty and Hilda’s dad in Ugly Betty was played by the talented actor, Tony Plana, for the entire four seasons of the show.
Ugly Betty’s talented cast had the difficult job of portraying both dramatic and comedic storylines on the show.
Tony Plana, who played Betty’s dad, Ignacio, in the series, often had to navigate portraying this heartfelt father of the Suarez family, while also telling his complicated story.
The Ugly Betty cast
Any show which has to tread the line between comedic and heartfelt the way that ABC’s dramady Ugly Betty did between 2006 and 2010, is bound to need an exceptionally talented cast.
And although the show’s leading lady, America Ferrera had already built up a respectable reputation in the film industry with movies like Real Women Have Curves and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by the time that she signed on to do the series, this was her first real foray into the world of television lead roles.
Fortunately, Ferrera had a group of other talented actors, including the likes of Eric Mabius, Vanessa Williams, Ana Ortiz, Becki Newton, Elizabeth Payne, Kevin Sussman and Judith Light, acting alongside her in the show.
All about the actor who played Betty’s dad in Ugly Betty
One of the Ugly Betty characters, who often had to handle some of the more heartfelt storylines in the show, was Betty’s father, Ignacio Suarez.
When Ignacio is first introduced to fans in the pilot episode of the series, it was immediately evident that his two daughters, Hilda (Ana Ortiz) and Betty (America Ferrera), and his grandson, Justin (Mark Indelicato), were the most important things in his life.
But, as the series progressed, it also became evident that the Suarez’s loving, widowed father always had a lot going on beneath the surface.
And despite his continued issues with the immigration authorities throughout the show, he even eventually becomes a legal resident of the United States.
Ignacio was played by actor, Tony Plana, for the entirety of the show. Plana is an accomplished actor who has racked up over 70 credits for various films and television shows over the course of his decades-long acting career.
Moreover, it is very likely that Plana drew inspiration from both some of his previous roles, and his real life growing up as a Cuban American in order to bring this fan-favorite character to life over throughout Ugly Betty’s four-season run.
How Tony Plana got the role of Ignacio
Casting directors often have to spend months auditioning actors to find someone who is exactly right for a specific part. However, it seems like this was not the case when it came to the casting of the patriarch of the Suarez family.
Plana revealed at the 2016 ATX Festival and Entertainment Weekly Ugly Betty reunion panel that the role of Ignacio was one of the easiest roles that he had ever booked.
According to Plana, even though the casting director was initially concerned that he was much too young for the part at the time, he had already received an offer for the series before he even had time to drive back home after his audition.
Where you may know Tony Plana from
Although Ignacio is still one of Plana’s most well-known roles to this day, he had already established a very successful acting career even before he secured this role on Ugly Betty.
This includes roles such as ‘Emiliano Della Serra’ in the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, ‘Major Max’ in the 1986 film Salvador, ‘Jefe’ in Three Amigos (which was also released in 1986), ‘Feo’ in the 1987 cult-classic comedy film, Born in East L.A, and perhaps most notably, the role of ‘Roberto Santiago’ in the show, Resurrection Blvd, which earned him two ALMA Award nominations.
What Tony Plana has been up to since Ugly Betty ended
Ugly Betty may not have stayed on the air for quite as many years as Plana imagined it would in his 2010 “The American Program Bureau” speech.
But the show certainly affirmed that Plana, who had already been cemented as a fantastic dramatic actor, could also make the jump to comedy when he needed to.
And once news broke that Ugly Betty would not be renewed beyond its fourth season, Plana was able to move on to a range of other projects.
This includes acting in films and television shows like Pain & Gain (2013), Young Pope (2016), The Affair (2014), Colony (2016) and more, and a few other voice acting and directing gigs along the way.
Plana even made a few special guest appearances on Ferrera’s new show, Superstore, between 2017 and 2021.