'Ugly Betty' Creator Dead By Suicide — RIP Silvio Horta

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How Did Silvo Horta Die? New Details On Death Of 'Ugly Betty' Creator
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How did Silvio Horta die?

Ugly Betty was one of the first shows of the early 2000s that challenged the American notion of superstardom. What, really, does a celebrity look like? It's only at the beginning of the 21st century that we as a culture began to become comfortable with the notion of a LatinX woman being part and parcel of the fabric of our pop culture zeitgeist — and doing so without becoming a stereotype of pan-Latinism.

America Ferrera, who played the titular Ugly Betty, starred as a fashion intern opposite Vanessa Williams, and it didn't take long for the show (which premiered in 2006) to not only challenge our notions of beauty, LatinX culture, and stardom, but to propel Ferrera into the celebrity stratosphere. 

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The creator of the show, Horta, however, has just been found dead. Let's look at what we know about this terrible tragedy. 

1. How did Silvio Horta die? He was found dead of an apparent suicide. 

The 45-year-old creator of the show was found dead in a Miami hotel room on Tuesday, January 7, 2019. Worse yet, initial reports suggest that Horta's death was brought about by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In the initial report of his death, a representative confirmed Horta's passing to a few outlets, but declined to comment on the nature of it all. 

2. Horta's family confirmed his death in a statement. 

"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother and son, Silvio Horta. 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 may be gone but his light will shine on," his mom and sister said in a joint official statement.

3. Tributes immediately poured in from celebrities. 

Ferrera was one of the first celebrities to post about her former boss's death, saying that Horta's family "must be in so much pain" right now at the loss, and that she was "stunned" that he passed away. Actor Chris Gorham said that Horta "gave [him] two of the greatest opportunities in his career" by casting him in both Jake 2.0 and Ugly Betty. And Vanessa Williams said that she, too, was "still in shock" after hearing the tragic news of his passing. 

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4. Horta was of Cuban-American descent. 

Born in America to Cuban parents, Horta was very proud of his LatinX roots, and frequently wrote them into his stories at a time when such representation wasn't common on the television landscape. His depiction of an LGBTQ+ kiss on Ugly Betty earned him high praise for its authenticity and its progressive lack of "shock" value. 

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5. He was openly gay. 

Michael Urie, best known as Marc St. James on Ugly Betty, credited Horta with being someone who "broke down barriers" when it came to LGBTQ+ representation on television. And thanks to his authentic depiction of LGBTQ+ people — stemming from his own experiences as a LatinX LGBTQ+ man — Horta received myriad awards, including GLAAD Awards, Golden Globes, and Emmys. 

6. Horta had projects in development at the time of his death. 

Ugly Betty was based on the Colombian novela called Yo Soy Betty, La Fea (I Am Betty, The Ugly), and was a worldwide smash for Horta. Despite his success, however, he hadn't had a television credit since 2015, per his IMDB page. However, unconfirmed reports suggest that he'd had several projects in development. 

Our thoughts are with Silvio Horta's family during what is undoubtedly a difficult time. 

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-8255.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, publicist, and photographer whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, BET.com, and more.