“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear brother and son, Silvio Horta. Through his friendships, his love and his work in TV and films, Silvio touched the lives of millions,” they said. “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 was a kind and beautiful man. He may be gone but his light will shine on.”
A service will be held in Miami, with a memorial service to be announced in Los Angeles.
Ugly Betty executive producer Ben Silverman alluded to Horta’s struggles. Silverman, 49, who hired Horta to adapt the Colombian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty, La Fea, after acquiring the rights in 2006, told USA Today that Horta was “an incredible voice and talent and a rare person, a gay Cuban writer who hit the mainstream as a kid.”
However, Silverman added that Horta had a difficult time handling all of his accomplishments, sharing that he “never could quite keep up with his own success.”
“It’s sad that he wasn’t happy in his own skin,” Silverman added.
Horta, a Miami native, previously discussed how certain elements of his own life, including challenging experiences with immigration and sexuality, made their way into the show.
“I think elements of Justin’s character being gay and sort of struggling with his sexuality was definitely — I drew from my own life,” he said in an interview with the Television Academy shared in 2016.
Horta was best known for creating the ABC sitcom Ugly Betty, which ran from 2006 to 2010 and starred America Ferrera as the titular character, a Mexican-American girl from Queens who lands a job at a Manhattan fashion magazine.
The series earned Horta an Emmy nomination in 2007 for outstanding comedy series, and Ferrera won outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her role that same year at the Emmys and the Golden Globes. In 2007, Ugly Betty won best television series — comedy or musical at the Golden Globes.
On Tuesday, Ferrera posted a moving message to the late screenwriter on Instagram.
“I’m stunned and heartbroken to hear the devastating news of Ugly Betty creator, Silvio Horta’s death,” Ferrera began her post, sharing a photo with Horta after their Golden Globes win in 2007.
“His talent and creativity brought me and so many others such joy & light,” she wrote. “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.”
“Silvio Horta gave me two of the greatest opportunities in my career with Jake 2.0 and Ugly Betty,” Gorham wrote alongside a collage of Horta and the two characters he played. “I will be forever grateful for his creativity, his enormous heart, and his friendship. His family was his world and my heart goes out to them tonight. Let’s all take care of each other.”
He also shared Ferrera’s post on his Instagram Story, writing, “So grateful. So heartbroken.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.