Young Hollywood Royalty! Ariel Winter rose to fame on ABC’s beloved sitcom Modern familybut her role as Alex Dunphy wasn’t her first break.
By the time the Virginia native landed the role of Phil (Ty Burrell) and Julie Dunphy’s (Julie Bowen) middle child, she had already appeared in shows including ER, Bones, Pinch/fold and Monk. However, in 2009, she landed the role that made her a household name.
Modern family ran from September of that year to April 2020, with the cast winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series four times before the finale. Winter was only 11 years old when she was cast as Alex, so when the show ended she had played the same character for almost half her life.
While the Criminal ghosts alum’s career flourished, but her personal life fell apart. In 2014, Winter was placed in the care of her adult sister, Shanelle Workmanafter years of allegations that their mother, Chrisoula “Crystal” Workmanhad physically and emotionally abused Ariel.
The actress later claimed that her mother had sexualized her from a very young age by dressing her in “the tiniest miniskirts” and “low-cut things” from the age of seven. “People thought I was 24 when I was 12,” she recounted The Hollywood Reporter in September 2017. “If there was a nude scene at that age my mom would have said yes a thousand percent.”
Chrisoula has always denied her daughter’s accusations, but the two have never reconciled. “I went through a really rough patch, a really bad chapter,” Winter said in the same interview.
The former Phineas and Ferb voice actress has also been open about how much she’s struggled with her body image over the years. During an interview in December 2021 on Red Table Talk: The Estefansthe SAG Award winner recalled how difficult it was growing up in the public eye while playing along Modern family.
“I was called a fat slut when I was 13,” she recalls. “That was intense. Because I gained weight and my body changed, I had to wear different outfits.”
While many of the show’s fans supported her, she recalled others being upset that she “didn’t look like Alex” in real life. Her struggles continued after she started drugs that caused her to gain weight and social media trolls flooded her accounts with comments about her appearance.
With the help of a therapist, she eventually learned how to muffle the voices that told her she wasn’t good enough, but she noted that self-love isn’t a one-time job. “I’m definitely still traveling,” she explained in December 2021.
Keep scrolling for a look back at Winter’s life and career: