If America Ferrera wasn’t already America’s sweetheart, the Golden Globes sealed the deal.
The 22-year-old star of “Ugly Betty” won the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy Monday, and her show was named best comedy. It was part of a sweep for ABC’s new Thursday night lineup, with “Grey’s Anatomy” winning best drama.
Ferrera portrays Betty Suarez, a clumsy, chunky girl in braces trying to make it at a stuffy fashion magazine. Fighting back tears as she accepted her award, Ferrera said she hears every day from girls whose self-esteem is boosted by seeing her on the show.
“I don’t really see Betty as ugly,” she said later backstage. “I see her as closer to the real girls I see in life. The title is about how we tend to call ourselves ugly if we don’t reach the expectations that are set. There are millions and millions of ugly Bettys in our own lives, and we need to stop using that word, especially to ourselves.”
The series is a remake of a popular telenovela, and initially ABC had little faith in the show. It was scheduled for the TV graveyard of Friday nights before the network, sensing a buzz, moved it to Thursday, where it has flourished.
Actress Salma Hayek, one of the show’s executive producers, said backstage that its makers played down the farcical elements of the telenovela to make the American show more inspiring.
Television awards tend to be overshadowed by the movie winners at the Golden Globes, but the Globes have a reputation for noticing newcomers’ work before their bigger-named rival, the Emmys, and often the public itself.
That was again the case this year. NBC’s comedy “30 Rock” doesn’t have a big audience, but Alec Baldwin’s role as a megalomaniac TV network executive has enthralled critics. The Globes honored him as best actor in a comedy.
“I’m glad this isn’t too heavy because I just had hernia surgery,” Baldwin said after grabbing his trophy.
Kyra Sedgwick of TNT’s “The Closer” was named best actress in a drama, despite being up against two of ABC’s most-featured players in top-10 shows — Ellen Pompeo of “Grey’s Anatomy” and Evangeline Lilly of “Lost.”
Sedgwick plays a detective specializing in coaxing confessions in “The Closer.” Her win was a coup for TNT, competing against broadcast networks and HBO, and seemed to leave Sedgwick genuinely moved as she rose from her seat beside her husband, Kevin Bacon.
“This show has been an amazing gift, an unexpected gift — the best kind,” she said.
Otherwise, it was a good night for British actors. Bill Nighy was a best-actor winner for a TV movie or miniseries for his role in a little-known BBC America film, “Gideon’s Daughter.” The title character role earned a supporting-actress award for Emily Blunt.
Best-drama actor winner Hugh Laurie of Fox’s “House” is well-known, but he had to navigate a formidable category with Dr. McDreamy — Patrick Dempsey of “Grey’s Anatomy” — and Kiefer Sutherland of “24.”
Laurie said he had no acceptance speech prepared, even though he won the same award last year for playing a brilliant but flawed doctor. He managed to wing it, with his thanks extending to the show’s “wonderful crew.” He quickly realized his awards-show cliche.
“Somebody somewhere is working with a crew of drunken thieves,” he said. “But it’s not me. They smell of newly mown grass.”
Helen Mirren won the Golden Globe for best actress in a miniseries or movie for her starring role in HBO’s “Elizabeth I.” Among her competitors for the award? Helen Mirren, for her work in “Prime Suspect: The Final Act.”
Jeremy Irons won a supporting actor award for his work in “Elizabeth I.”
“Why is it that the jobs that are the most fun are the ones that give you awards?” Irons said. “It’s like you don’t deserve them.”