This original work by Colombian Maestro Fernando Gaitan, was a modern day Cinderella phenomenon, adaptations are seen in 18 different countries, let’s see if you recognize one from your Country;
- Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin
- Sensiz Olmuyor
- Verliebt in Berlin
- Ne Rodis’ Krasivoy
- La Fea Más Bella
- Yo Soy Bea
- Ugly Betty
- Maria, i Aschimi
- Ne daj se, Nina
- Ošklivka Katka
- Cô gái xấu xí
- I Love Betty La Fea
- Chou Nü Wu Di
- Bela, a Feia
- Gogona Gareubnidan
Well my words above was an understatement. Why this isn’t just a modern Cinderella story, it is also has the ugly duckling plot craftily woven into it. I see this as a satire on how in the modern world, with all the talk of equal opportunity, women’s rights and such, a new type of discrimination takes place, vanity. I think the reason of the successful worldwide adaptation is that many people can understand what Betty goes through. Vanity discrimination is a pandemic. How many women had never suffered from being seen as “ugly” or bullied because of physical state, glasses, over weight, under weight, big breasts, small breasts, braces, or pimples? I would go as far as say none. Even a famous Hollywood starling at one point in life would go through this.
On a side note in general Latin America is a land filled with beautiful men and women, being part of the New World, it is a melting pot of genes from different continental origins from centuries back, giving rise to exotic features, hey that’s why there is even the term “Latin Lover” (it’s true I swear! I’m not saying this just because my kids are half Colombian :p ).
Here is the synopsis of the original version taken from wikipedia:
Beatriz Aurora Pinzón Solano, Betty, is an unattractive but brilliant economist working as a secretary at a fictitious Colombian fashion empire, EcoModa. Betty constantly faces the scorn of EcoModa’s attractive manager-owners but proves herself indispensable to EcoModa’s new president, Armando Mendoza. She becomes Armando’s accomplice in a clandestine scheme to save EcoModa from financial ruin and they become romantically involved.
Though she has a masters degree in finance and graduated at the top of her class, Betty has been unable to secure a job interview, because, she claims, her ugly photograph ruins her otherwise impressive résumé. After searching unsuccessfully for a job to match her education and experience, she applies for a position as the secretary to the president of EcoModa, a highly successful, trendy fashion manufacturer/retailer founded by two families, the Mendozas and the Valencias. She sends her résumé to EcoModa without a photograph, thus securing an interview.
Armando Mendoza, EcoModa’s new president, is the smart, handsome, and well-educated son of the company’s retired co-founder Roberto Mendoza. He is engaged to Marcela Valencia, an EcoModa executive and daughter of the deceased co-founder, Valencia. Armando is in search of a new secretary and first interviews Marcela’s best friend, Patricia Fernández. He is reluctant to hire Patricia because he assumes that Marcela would want her to spy on him, given his reputation as a notorious womanizer. Armando then interviews Betty. While he is concerned about her “ugliness”, he likes the idea that she could be his ally, rather than a spy. In order to please Marcela, Armando hires as his secretaries both Betty, the ugly but brilliant economist, and the very attractive but not so intelligent Patricia.
Since EcoModa is a fashion company primarily concerned with image and beauty, Patricia is seated in the lobby and Betty is seated in a stock room behind Armando’s office. Nevertheless, Betty proves herself invaluable as she maneuvers effortlessly in the business and finance milieu, earning respect among industry insiders whom would later become her close friends, lately called El cuartel de las feas (The club of the ugly ones). Throughout the weeks, Betty falls in love with Armando but keeps her feelings a secret.
Out of loyalty, and love, to Armando, she helps him launch a risky new business plan that could mean the downfall of EcoModa, but if successful, could bring the company back to firm financial standing. The business plan sets up a fake company, run in name by Betty, as a firm financial backer of EcoModa. The fake company prevents the banks from taking over EcoModa’s stocks, primarily because of Betty’s business savvy and financial contacts. Once the summer fashion line is released, EcoModa will be secure in their finances and the fake company can be dissolved. However, Armando asked Betty to fake the annual budget reports in order to keep the plan a secret from his family, not wanting to disappoint them regarding his leadership skills as the new president of EcoModa. Betty reluctantly agrees to help him and asks her best friend, Nicolas Mora, to go along with it. EcoModa’s vice president (and Armando’s best friend) Mario Calderon is the only other person at EcoModa that knows about the business plan. However, because of how the plan works, EcoModa has been sold (in paper) to the fake company, setting up Betty as the president. Mario is concerned that Betty plans to keep the company to herself and convinces Armando to make her fall in love with him for security. Armando is sure that Betty could never be so devious, but when he suspects that Nicholas and Betty have a romance, he begins to worry that they will stay with the company and all its fortune. He takes Mario’s advice and starts to seduce Betty, even though he is disgusted by the idea. Once the company is back in Armando’s hands, he would break up with Betty and fire her.
As the weeks pass by, Betty falls more in love with Armando. In turn, Armando starts seeing past the “ugliness” and sees the beautiful person Betty is. He falls in love with her for real, but keeps his feelings a secret from Mario, who constantly teases Armando about having to kiss the ugly duckling. A couple of days before the budget meeting, Betty discovers a letter from Mario to Armando describing details about the fake romance.
She is devastated at how Armando could be so cruel and play with her feelings, but instead of confronting him, she decides to play along with his game and makes him believe she is losing feeling for him and falling in love with Nicholas. She begins to torment Armando by spending EcoModa’s money on a luxury car and fancy restaurants and then by spending more time with Nicholas, thus making Armando furiously jealous. After a few days of torment, tears, and fist fights (Nicholas and Armando), Betty realizes she is only making her pain worse by playing along with the game and decides to end it.
She exposes the truth of the secret business plan to his family at the meeting by presenting the real balance sheet and not the fake one. At that moment, Armando and Mario realize that she has known about their vicious plan the entire time. The family (who are also stockholders) are informed that EcoModa is in financial ruin and that Betty is the new owner of the company. However, Betty reveals that the fake company was only set up to prevent EcoModa from going bankrupt and that she is handing back full ownership to the stockholders. Roberto Mendoza chastises Betty on her involvement in such a scheme, knowing her to be an honest woman, and Betty is escorted out of the building. Before she leaves, Armando confronts her, only to find out how much Betty was humiliated by his deception. He tries to confess his now true feelings for her, but she refuses to listen. As Betty leaves the building, Marcela suspects her as a thief and demands to know what she is hiding inside a trash bag where she has been keeping all the love letters and gifts from Armando ever since she discovered his feelings for her were never real. Betty has no choice but to reveal the fake romance, Marcela is devastated and shocked but is told that their relationship was nothing more than a cruel plan to make sure she doesn’t get away with the company. Marcela cancels the wedding and breaks up with Armando. Everyone, including his family, disowns him.
Hurt and heartbroken, Betty immediately takes a job as the assistant to a fashion icon who is in charge of the Miss Colombia Pageant. She runs to the airport to catch a flight to Cartagena. She decides to confide the whole truth to her new boss Catalina, who has also been her guardian angel and close friend throughout her hard times in EcoModa.
Armando is desperate to find Betty, but can not find her. He must also deal with the fallout of the business situation EcoModa is now in. Armando is fired as president and his father comes out of retirement to take over the presidential duties. The attorney realizes that Betty did not correctly turn over the business back to the stockholders, therefore Betty and her fake company are still the owners of EcoModa, thus preventing the bank from seizing control. Knowing that the only way to save the company is to continue with the “business plan” until after the summer fashion line, the stockholders have no choice but to ask Betty to stay and run the company. The only problem is that they can’t find Betty.
Meanwhile, Betty is surrounded by all the beautiful pageant ladies and has become fast friends with a gorgeous French photographer (Michael) who would later find interest in her. Catalina helps Betty come out of her shell and rather slowly helps Betty shed some of her ugliness. First she convinces Betty to accept an advance on her salary so that she can buy clothes that complement her figure better. The next day she took Betty to a hair stylist and asked them to give her a more modern cut. A few days later she is taken back to the hair stylist to have her unibrow and stache waxed out and she is fixed with make up. Catalina “accidentally” breaks her glasses and the new pair is much more suited to her face. It seems that Betty has shed her “ugliness” overnight and looks quite beautiful. But then Betty gets a call from her father saying that she needs to return to finish some business with EcoModa. Reluctantly, she returns home after finishing her work in Cartagena.
When she walks into EcoModa, nobody recognizes her. Everyone is quite shocked at her transformation. Roberto tells Betty about the financial situation they are in and asks Betty to help him save the company. Although hesitant about working at EcoModa again, Betty agrees, feeling some responsibility as to why they are in that situation. She is to be the new president of EcoModa until the company can be financially stable again.
Months later, the new fashion line is a success thanks to Betty’s business savvy and her idea of modeling ugly women (the club of the ugly ones) instead of the usual beautiful models. Although Betty appears to be dating Michael, who came to visit her from Cartagena, she is still in love with Armando but does not believe him when he confesses his feelings for her. Michael offers Betty to move to Cartagena with her family to work and start a new life once she finishes her job in EcoModa. She is unsure whether to take the offer at first, but later accepts it.
Betty tells her friends she is leaving Bogotá and they are all devastated by the news. In fact, she decides to leave earlier than planned in order to forget Armando forever. This puts the company back in danger because EcoModa’s is not yet stable. In order to prevent this, Armando decides to move far away so that Betty can stay and continue as president. The club of the ugly ones(Betty’s friends) try convincing her to stay, truly believing that Armando has changed, but she refuses to stay and give him a chance. This means that the presidential role would go Daniel Valencia, another executive and stockholder, Marcela’s brother, and Betty and Armando’s enemy. He would sell the company and save whatever is left of it, therefore causing hundreds of people to be unemployed. When Marcela hears about this, she decides to swallow her pride and resentment and tells Betty the truth about everything that happened when she left to Cartagena. Because of this, Betty realizes that Armando has really had a change of heart and she stops him from leaving. They both stay and run the company together and after a few months, the two eventually marry.
The final scene shows everyone gushing over Betty and Armando’s new-born daughter, who is just as beautiful as Betty when she was first born.