These Unexpected Facts About ‘Yo Soy Betty, La Fea’ Just Blew Our Minds
Do you remember watching reruns of “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea” after school, cheering on would-be economist Betty and low-key despising Marcela and Patricia?
We still have many thoughts about Betty and Armando’s love story, not to mention many aspects of the show that would only fly in 1999.
While some parts of the telenovela were questionable, including centering on the “ugliness” of its female heroine, it’s still a nostalgic show for many Latinos. And yes, we still say Patricia’s iconic line: “La pobreza me está respirando en la nuca,” because the writing was top-tier.
Even if you’re a huge fan of “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea” who has watched rerun after rerun—and gotten into its American adaptation “Ugly Betty”—we’ve compiled facts about the show that might still surprise you.
In fact, the 1999 Colombian series actually received a Guinness World Record in 2010 for being the most successful telenovela in the history of television. And there’s way more where that came from. Here are all the best “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea” fun facts that just blew our minds.
1. Apart from its Guinness record, “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea,” has serious worldwide appeal
The 1999 RCN show “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea” won the 2010 Guinness World Record for being the most successful telenovela ever recorded in TV history. However, other facts shed even more light on its magnitude across the globe. In fact, the Colombian novela has been watched in more than 180 countries and has been translated into 25 languages. Even more, as highlighted by a “Betty La Fea” Twitter super-fan, the series has been adapted 28 times.
As per RCN, the show’s 28 adaptations range from “exact replicas” to “adopting new surroundings, customs, and traditions.” That being said, the “essence” of the plot remained the same, even when adapted in countries like India, Poland, and Germany. Another interesting fact? The first episode of the Chinese version of the novela was viewed by 73 million people.
2. The show’s writer, Fernando Gaitán, was a screenwriting legend
Bogotá-born screenwriter and producer Fernando Gaitán first shot to worldwide fame for the 1994 Colombian telenovela “Café, Con Aroma de Mujer.” Also broadcasted in North America and Europe, the show centers on an impossible romance between wealthy coffee farm owner, Sebastián Vallejo, and coffee picker Teresa Suárez. The show was a massive success in the 90s, which Gaitán followed up with the later-acclaimed “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea.”
Both series set themselves apart by focusing on social and economic differences between their protagonists. And–let’s face it—viewers’ reactions said it all. Gaitán left behind an incredible legacy before tragically dying of heart failure in 2019.
3. Behind-the-scenes facts from the novela we weren’t expecting
Remember those scenes where you can see Ecomoda president (and Betty’s major love interest) Armando dancing salsa? Salsa clubs were the moment, after all. Well, turns out that the actor who played Armando, Colombian star Jorge Enrique Abello, had to learn salsa before filming. He reportedly did not know how to dance salsa before starring on the show and took classes.
Another interesting, fun fact? “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea” was reportedly shot in the RCN channel’s offices in Bogotá. Whether or not that was a money-saving measure, the novela’s earnings since then have surely multiplied quite a bit.
Even more, Twitter recently remembered the young boy who cries in the show’s intro, ostensibly after looking at Betty (why was the show so savage?).
That iconic blonde boy is actually the actor David Velásquez, who talked about his experience filming the intro after his sister shared the fun fact. Curiously, Velásquez shared on Instagram that the show’s creators didn’t make him cry by pinching him as some believed—the director just “scared him” instead. Legendary.
4. The show’s actors reportedly have to follow strict protocols to this day
Actresses Lorna Cepeda and Natalia Ramírez, who played everyone’s favorite evil BFF duo, Patricia and Marcela, recently revealed in an interview that they can’t quote the novela. What?! They explained that they must follow very strict copyright protocols, which is why Cepeda couldn’t utter Patricia’s famous line “Marce, la pobreza me está respirando en la nuca” during the interview.
When asked about the dilemma, Ramirez described, “You know the issue? [The quote is under copyright]. We aren’t left with anything… It’s sad.”
Cepeda chimed in, “It would be really nice to be able to do those things, for the people, but we can’t.”
5. “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea” has one of the most passionate fanbases in history—including an unexpected celeb
As you might know, the Colombian telenovela has a fierce fanbase. Several Twitter users have described how they watch the show once a year. Something that wasn’t on our 2023 bingo card, though? One woman actually wrote her entire university thesis on the telenovela.
Univision reported that Angélica María Padilla Pardo from Colombia analyzed the novela for her Humanities and Spanish language degree at Francisco José de Caldas University. The topic of her thesis? Debating whether Betty was a villain or hero—and whether we should all be “Team Betty” or “Team Marcela.” A+!
Another big fan of the show? Marvel actress Elizabeth Olsen. In a recent interview, she said she used to love watching “Yo Soy Betty, La Fea” (not “Ugly Betty”) with her friends. Olsen described, “[My friends and I] would pretend to translate it. So we created an entire “Betty La Fea” musical in Spanish class.”
So there you have it—somos Betty obsessed.
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