In the past, the majority of Emmy Awards dished out for outstanding comedy series have been accepted by a talented all-adult cast. But when it comes to Modern Family, the show’s kids are more than alright. The US mockumentary series, which made its debut in 2009, follows the life of three very different families, and the four-member kid contingent has as much knack for nailing a punchline as the older set. Leading the charge is sharp-witted and cultured-beyond-his years Manny Delgado, played by Rico Rodriguez: his character is the son of Latina whirlwind Gloria (Sofia Bergara) and late-in-life stepdad Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill). Rodriguez effortlessly delivers seemingly innocent, yet often back-handed humour that has captured audiences around the world. Here, we chat to the kid star to learn more about life on set.
How does it feel to be part of an Emmy Award-winning show with an Emmy Award-winning cast? It’s great. I love being on Modern Family. One of my favourite things is going to work every day.
Are you close with the other kids on the show – Nolan Gould, Ariel Winter and Sarah Hyland? We are. We do practically everything together, since we’re always in the schoolroom together. We have beanbag chairs in there, and we always have our computers out. Right now we’re working on this project of making an independent movie.
You work with a very talented adult cast. What have you learned from them, in terms of acting or life? What I’ve learned from Ed [O’Neill] is to always shoot the rehearsal, because you do your best in rehearsal. But also, whenever I have trouble with my lines, he’s always the one to help me. He tells me how to enunciate better and how to make it come naturally to me.
What’s your real family like? Is it anything like the Modern Family crew? They’re about the same! My real dad [is like] Phil Dunphy [played by Ty Burrell], the cool dad. And my real mum is a mix between Claire [Julie Bowen] and Gloria [Sofia Vergara]. She’s not as uptight as Claire is, but she can be strict sometimes.
Manny is such a smooth, suave character. He’s basically a mini older man. Are you like that in real life? Well, we’re different in many ways. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t write poems. I don’t give flowers to girls… yet. What I do have in common with him is that I have five nieces and one nephew. And I’m also a momma’s boy. I really love my mum. And you too, Dad!
Manny also likes to bake a lot. Do you do the same? One time on set, I actually helped the craft service lady, Wendy, make cupcakes for everyone. On that particular day, George Clooney was there because we were doing the Emmy promo for last year’s Emmys. So I was able to meet him and asked if he wanted a cupcake. But he said no, because he was working. But that’s okay!
Any advice for kids who want to go into acting? Just keep going and don’t give up. We didn’t and look where we’re at! And always have your family back you up, because that’s the biggest thing: your mum and dad.
It seems as though family is really important to you. What makes your family so close? The love we have for each other, and the support. And not being mad at each other and having a good heart about everything, too. Season three of Modern Family airs on Fridays at 8.30pm on OSN Comedy.