Yesterday, the creator of ABC’s Ugly Betty Silvio Horta died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 45. The Cuban-American creative was found dead in a Miami motel room, but not many other details have been reported about this tragic death.
While Horta worked extensively in Hollywood as a writer and producer in the late ’90s and the aughts, he is being remembered for Ugly Betty the remarkable series, which ran between 2006 and 2010, and featured a Latina lead on network TV. The star of that show was then a breakthrough actress named, of course, America Ferrera, who has gone on to do phenomenal work in TV and film and as an activist as well.
Ferrera commented on the death of Horta on Instagram, saying, “I’m stunned and heartbroken to hear the devastating news of Ugly Betty creator, Silvio Horta’s death. 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.”
Vanessa Williams, who also starred in Ugly Betty, paid her condolences on Instagram as well, and said, “Still in shock after hearing the tragic news of our #uglybetty creator #silviohorta 💔 His creativity and passion will be missed by so many of us that worked with him. May he Rest In Peace .”
According to Variety, the NYU grad was developing a series with Mary J. Blige, which didn’t come to fruition. In 2015, his last writing credit was for the TV movie The Curse of the Fuentes Women. His breakthrough writing project, however, was the 1998 horror favorite Urben Legends.
The ABC version of Ugly Betty was based on the popular telenovela in Colombia titled Yo soy Betty, la fea that went on to inspire multiple shows about this beloved character. Horta’s Ugly Betty, however, told the story of a witty and career-driven Latina who worked diligently to work her way up the corporate latter without ever comprising her values.
In a 2007 interview with USA Today, Horta spoke briefly about his sexuality and said that the young gay character of Justin Suarez (played by Mark Indelicato) was a lot like him.
“I see myself in him,” Horta said, and added that he came out at age 19. “Growing up, I certainly felt like an outsider at times. But there’s this sweet innocence in Justin that sees the positive.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).