The story of the Dunphy / Pritchett, Los Angeles’ fun and friendly, well-to-do clan, ended last April, after 11 years of success. With 17 Emmy Awards, five Actors Guild statuettes and a Golden Globe, Modern Family became one of the most prominent TV comedies of all time, which will continue to live on through fans around the world who watch it once and again on Netflix. It was the springboard to fame and public recognition of several of her figures, who spent unforgettable times with the series. With the exception of one of them: behind the character of Haley hides an actress who has fought a dramatic fight.
From acting parents – Melissa Canaday and Edward James Hyland – and born in Manhattan, the land of Broadway, her ways seemed to be predestined to lead her to acting. Future that she embraced with responsibility and notoriety since she was six years old, when she had her first role in the movie Private Parts. She participated in minor roles in the films Annie and Joe Gould’s Secret, and in some television series until she arrived in Modern Family in 2009.
The Dunphys’ eldest daughter, always well-made-up and with carefully groomed hair, is characterized by her aspirations in social life as opposed to her disinterest in education and career. Victim of teasing for her “slowness” to assimilate jokes and different situations of daily life, in the first seasons she appears as a typical teenager who only wants to be popular with her peers, although with the passage of time a maturation in her character. With this role in the eleven seasons of the series, Hyland became an international celebrity and served to kick off his budding singing career.
Hyland was born with renal dysplasia, a morphological alteration of the kidney produced during its development. The patient with this pathology can develop cysts over time, which impede the normal functioning of the organ. The case of the actress, unfortunately, is a serious one.
In 2012 her kidneys began to fail and she had to go on dialysis and find a donor. Soon they found: her father. The transplant was successful and for a time the problems seemed to be in the past.
But in 2017 her body began to reject his father’s kidney. “When a member of your family gives you a second chance to live and you fail, it almost seems like it’s your fault. It is not, but it feels that way. We did many treatments to save the kidney, but they told me that the transplanted kidney was like a house that had burned down: they couldn’t save it. I started dialysis and had to be connected to a machine three times a week, four hours per session. I’m so addicted to work that I said, ‘Well, I do sessions Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday so I only have to do dialysis on two business days.’ But then they had to do a nephrectomy, which is when they remove your kidney,” said the actress in dialogue with the SELF media.
There was no other way, they had to have a new transplant. In this case, the donor was his younger brother, also actor Ian Hyland: “When a second member of your family, someone whom you are supposed to take care of as your younger brother, wants to give you a third chance to live … It’s frightening. I felt a lot of pressure. It was a pretty crazy few days: I had my first date with my current boyfriend, the next day it was the Emmys, the next day I went on dialysis and then I had to be in the hospital for my transplant.”
These were not the only surgeries she had to undergo. From a very young age, she faced health problems: she had endometriosis – growth of cells of the uterus outside the uterus – and a hernia aggravated by a car accident. According to Hyland’s own testimony, she was operated 16 times.
The actress turned the marks that her health problems left on her body into a message of resilience. Far from feeling ashamed, through her Instagram account she usually shows them under the hashtag #ShowYourScars, with motivating words for those who are going through similar situations.
“I never felt ashamed of showing my scars. For someone so skinny, having a stomach that looks like a New Jersey road map shows who I am and what character I have. I am cured, I am well and I am very grateful to all my family. I think love is the most important thing in the world. Love and health, of course. But love helps you get through everything, and that’s what keeps me alive.”
The most difficult moment
A family that always supported her, money to be cared for by professionals and a successful job. Seen from this perspective, it seems that Hyland’s path was not so difficult. But it’s not like that. All the external support would have been in vain if it were not for her bravery and her will to live, which prevailed even in the most difficult moments.
The young artist touched Ellen DeGeneres in an interview by revealing that she had had suicidal thoughts: “After 26, 27 years of being sick and in chronic pain every day, you don’t know when you are going to have the next good day. It is really hard. I wrote letters in my head to my loved ones telling why I did it, the reasoning about the decision and that it was nobody’s fault. I didn’t want to write it on paper because I didn’t want anyone to find it.”
“I was like, ‘I need to see a therapist.’ And they said ‘no, no, why? Tell me’. And when I said it out loud they said ‘oh yeah you need to see a therapist’. ‘I don’t think you can help me, I think I really need to do this on my own and I really need to dig deeper and do some introspection work,’ I replied. Saying it out loud helped me a lot because I kept it to myself for many months,” she revealed about her most difficult moment, which tormented her while making the world laugh with her character in Modern Family.
Hyland met her colleague Matt Prokop at a casting for High School Musical 3: Graduation, and soon after they were paired. In 2011 they starred in the movie Geek Charming and, in addition, the actor appeared in an episode of Modern Family. They bet on living together with the dog he had given him and everything seemed to indicate that the relationship was going in the best way. Surprisingly, in 2012 they separated.
At that time the reasons did not transpire but a few years later the doubts were dispelled when the American Justice issued a perimeter measure that prevented Prokop from approaching less than 100 meters from her ex-partner, her home, her workplace and her dog.
The TMZ media revealed that the actress requested the perimeter measure as a result of having suffered different episodes of physical and verbal violence committed by her colleague. Always according to the publication, the young woman stated that on one occasion, during an argument, he took her by the neck: “He squeezed me with both hands and I started to choke, I couldn’t breathe or speak. I was very scared for my life.”
The actress said that for that fact she had voice problems and that at that time she did not report him to the Police because Prokop had promised that he would never do it again.
Contrary to her decision regarding her health problems, Hyland prefers not to speak publicly on this issue. They have rarely done so and, on one occasion, in dialogue with the Refinery29 site, she stated: “Many people think that once you escape abuse, that’s it, it ends there. But it’s not like that. The emotional trauma and scars on your soul don’t go away, and they have consequences throughout your life if you don’t ask for help.”
“I found myself wondering, ‘Why did I explode out of nowhere?’ And I realized that this topic is so tied to other things that it is an endless battle and to expose it a demonstration of self-love,” she said.
Love and Coronavirus
After a two-year relationship with British actor Dominic Sherwood, Hyland found love through social media. It happened in 2017, after seeing her colleague Wells Adams on the reality show The Bachelorette – from ABC, the same chain that broadcasts Modern Family, and she was delighted with his personality. She started following him on Twitter and they soon exchanged some messages.
“We spent some time tweeting because it seemed like a lot of fun to me and he was a fan of my series,” said the actress on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The round trip got a little more serious when he sent her the first private message: “I was single, obviously, and I thought it was fantastic that she dared to take that step.”
“He told me that the next time he was in Los Angeles he would like to invite me to have a drink and eat some tacos and, well, I love tacos, he also… We have an obsession with tacos and tequila. That’s ours,” she revealed, laughing. She defines Adams as his “best friend”.
In November 2017, they formalized their relationship with a photo together on Instagram. These were very difficult times for Hyland: a few months before, she had undergone her second transplant and, as she herself recounted, her boyfriend was a fundamental pillar in the emotional aspect: “He was with me in the worst moments. It was a difficult time to start a relationship and meet another person. It was also weird because I’m used to being the most vocal in a relationship, but now it’s her. It was like ‘wait, I’m so confused, what’s going on?’ When we have a fight, I wonder ‘how come I am the one acting like a girl?’”
In mid-2018 they announced that they were betting on coexistence in Los Angeles and nobody was surprised that in October 2019 they got engaged. To celebrate, they threw a big party in their home garden with their family and friends, including actors Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, better known as Phil Dunphy and Mitchell Pritchett of Modern Family.
But the coronavirus pandemic changed everyone’s plans, including theirs, and they had to postpone the marriage. “I think there are more important things to worry about right now,” Hyland said about it. We definitely want to get married and have the wedding of our dreams with everyone we love, but we decided to suspend it because we prefer to focus on what matters, which is to raise awareness about the use of masks and go out only for essential issues. There is a lot to learn and I prefer to think of other things before the party”.
This change of plans does not represent a problem for the actress. Her story shows her the way: “My name is Sarah, I have two of the most incredible dogs in the world, I have the best boyfriend who has the third most incredible dog in the world, I have the best family that anyone can ask for. I love working, I love acting, I love so many things. And I also have endometriosis, I also have kidney failure, I also had two kidney transplants, I also had a damn hernia for a year, I also had other things … That list does not end, but that list does not stop me either. I will not allow it.”