You may know her as Ugly Betty but America Ferrera has much more than TV-acting chops.
The 25-year-old star came to Sundance to debut "The Dry Land," an Iraq War film in which she played the roles of star and executive producer. "The Dry Land" deals with what happens when soldiers return from Iraq and how reunions that ought to be sweet sometimes turn wrenching.
In preparing for the film, Ferrera interviewed a host of soldiers and their spouses.
"Seeing how much they wanted an authentic telling of it ... it was touching. It became personal," she said in an interview with "Popcorn."
Ferrera shared one story that struck her:
"One of the women said to me that after her husband returned and she still felt so alone, she allowed herself to have the thought that maybe it would've been better if he hadn't come home," she said. "When they come home, they're still fighting that war inside them."
While Ferrera feels "Dry Land" is an important film, she knows how hard it has been for Iraq War movies to succeed at the box office.
"I think a lot of people just want to be entertained and happy and smile," she said. "It's harder to say, 'I'm going to sit down and make myself confront something uncomfortable.'"
Speaking of being happy and smiling, that's exactly what Ferrera was when the subject shifted to her ABC series, "Ugly Betty."
"This season, season four, is my favorite season," she said. "We've never had lower ratings and I've never been more proud of it. I love being the underdog."
Although she long ago blossomed into a beautiful young actress, Ferrera still gets pseudo-praise from fans who see her on the street and can't believe she plays the girl with the braces and glasses.
"They think they're giving you a compliment; 'Oh, my God, you are so much uglier on the show. You're like, half the size of what I thought you were,'" she said, laughing.
Let's hope she keeps laughing through Sundance, regardless of such comments. That's what Rivers would want, after all.