Things That Matter

Silvio Horta, The Creator Of ‘Ugly Betty,’ Found Dead In Miami Motel Of Apparent Suicide

The creator of ABC’s iconic series “Ugly Betty,” Silvio Horta, was found dead in his Miami motel room Tuesday after succumbing to severe depression. The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s office has confirmed that Horta died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but have not concluded his autopsy or toxicology reports. Horta suffered from addiction and depression but his imagination and dedication left a legacy of stories, trans and female empowerment, and loved ones who are grieving his loss. Horta was 45 years old.

As shock and grief grip the Latino community that he made his mission to elevate through the art of story-telling on living room televisions everywhere, we’re learning more about the acts of kindness that his life will be remembered by.

The common denominator in family and friends’ remembrance of Horta is his “light.”

CREDIT: @AMERICAFERRERA / INSTAGRAM

I’m stunned and heartbroken to hear the devastating news of Ugly Betty creator, Silvio Horta’s death,” “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera posted to social media. “His talent and creativity brought me and so many others such joy & light. I’m thinking of his family and loved ones who must be in so much pain right now- and of the whole Ugly Betty family who feel this loss so deeply.” In a separate post, Ferrera added, “Silvio gave me a start at 11 years old and trusted me with a character that was so close to his heart. He will be greatly missed by all.”

Horta’s mother, Anna, and sister, Hilda, have released a joint statement that acknowledges both the darkness of his addiction and depression and the light that he showed to the world. “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother and son, Silvio Horta,” the two said in a statement. “Through his friendships, his love and his work in TV and films, Silvio touched the lives of millions. Silvio had an ongoing struggle with addiction and depression, but through it all, he always found a way to turn his struggle into laughter. He was a kind and beautiful man. He may be gone but his light will shine on.”

Other “Ugly Betty” cast members have shared their heartfelt grief for his loss.

CREDIT: @VANESSAWILLIAMSOFFICIAL / INSTAGRAM

Still in shock after hearing the tragic news of our #uglybetty creator #silviohorta ????,” actress Vanessa Williams, who played Wilhelmina Slater on “Ugly Betty,” said in a social media post. “His creativity and passion will be missed by so many of us that worked with him. May he Rest In Peace.”

Chris Gorham, who played Betty’s love interest, paid tribute to Horta, acknowledging that “his family was his world.”

CREDIT: @CHRISGORHAM / INSTAGRAM

Silvio Horta gave me two of the greatest opportunities in my career with Jake 2.0 and Ugly Betty,” Gorham shared in a social media post, adding, “I will be forever grateful for his creativity, his enormous heart, and his friendship. His family was his world and my heart goes out to them tonight. Let’s all take care of each other.”

Let’s all take care of each other.

Actress Trace Lysette has credited Silvio for giving trans people an authentic platform on television.

CREDIT: @TRACELYSETTE / INSTAGRAM

“Still processing this loss. This life is so very hard sometimes and I understand the pain can be overwhelming,” Lysette shared to her social media, adding, “You were kind and talented. You changed the way I thought about myself and my worth. 5 years ago, we shot a pilot together called Curse of the Fuentes Women for NBC. It pushed the envelope, and if it had been picked up it would have possibly been the first time a trans character played by a trans actor would have been on network TV in a series regular role. A feat that has now been achieved… and you are still part of that Silvio.”

The Latino LGBTQ+ community lost a pioneer this week to a fatal disease that affects us all.

CREDIT: @SILVIOH / INSTAGRAM

Horta was born in Miami to Cuban parents and had a knack for playwrighting since his high school years at Coral Gables Senior High School. Horta came out to his family as a gay man at 19 years old. LGBTQ+ adults are two times more likely to attempt suicide when compared to other adults, according to a 2008 psychiatric study. Among the LGBTQ+ community, substance abuse and addiction disorders are also more than twice as likely to be prevalent than in heterosexuals, according to 2015 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 

No matter how famous or successful, the mental health effects of living in a stigmatized culture are real. Thank you, dear Silvio, for using your life so brilliantly to lift our community up. You will be missed.

READ: These Iconic Ugly Betty Moments Defined A Show That Defined Our Youth

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