The Stunning Transformation Of Sarah Hyland

The following article includes references to suicide and domestic violence.

Sarah Hyland shot to fame after landing the career-defining role of Haley Dunphy in "Modern Family." Playing the confident and street-savvy — if a bit ditsy — character defined her 20s, and Hyland had been through a huge emotional and physical transformation by the end of that journey.

"Modern Family" ran for 11 seasons from 2009 to 2020, and when it ended, Hyland reflected on growing up in the spotlight. Although admitting she was a bit of a diva during the early days of her career, she quickly matured. "I've definitely learned as I've got older to care less about what people think and more about what is important to me, and [ask] 'will I make myself proud of myself?' [I'm] just trying to be the best human being possible," she reminisced during an interview with Refinery29.

Over the years Hyland has been in several high-profile relationships, branched out into movie roles, and even gotten married. But life definitely hasn't been easy for the "Modern Family" star. Some of the heartbreaking details about Hyland include her health struggles, which have resulted in the actor having over a dozen operations. Thankfully, she has come out the other side, and considering everything she has been through, Hyland has had a remarkable evolution.

Her parents tried to dissuade her from becoming an actor

Born in 1990, Sarah Hyland grew up in New York, the only daughter of actors Melissa Canaday and Edward James Hyland, along with her brother, Ian Hyland, who also became an actor. The family-of-four lived in a 300-square-foot apartment, but her dad, who was a jobbing actor, was on the road a lot. "[He] had to travel the country to do any type of regional theater to put food on the table," Sarah explained to Cosmopolitan.

Sarah also earned some money of her own as a child, working on shows like "All My Children" and "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But, knowing what a career as a professional actor could look like, Melissa and Edward tried to dissuade their daughter from following in their footsteps full-time. "They were totally against it ... they know how tough the entertainment industry can be," she told Teen Vogue.

Nevertheless, Sarah was determined to pursue her passion, and, after the show she was working on, "Lipstick Jungle," was canceled, she moved to Los Angeles. But the then-18-year-old had a very strict deadline to find work. "I gave myself two months to book a job. One month later I was cast on 'Modern Family,'" she revealed. After that, Sarah's life changed forever.

Modern Family was life-changing — but she almost wasn't cast

Sarah Hyland is the first to admit just how much being cast in "Modern Family," which premiered on ABC in 2009, changed her life. Not every actor gets to work on a major broadcast network's sitcom that they love with people they call family for over a decade, but Hyland took it all in. Starring in the syndicated show afforded her a lot of opportunities and every scene provided her the chance to learn from comedy greats. But it may come as a surprise to learn that Hyland almost missed out on her most iconic role, as Haley Dunphy, altogether.

The TV star actually had to do some convincing to get an audition for "Modern Family," as she didn't exactly fit the criteria to play Haley. "I was 18 and Haley's character was 15. They were like, 'She's too old,'" Hyland revealed to BuzzFeed. "And at the time, my agent's assistant fought for me to get in the room. She was like, 'She doesn't look 18 years old, I promise you! She looks very, very young!'" Thankfully, Hyland's agency was willing to advocate for her, as her talent wowed the creative team, and it's hard to imagine anyone else playing Haley.

Hyland left an abusive relationship while filming Modern Family

While starring on "Modern Family," Sarah Hyland took on a number of other acting roles. One was in the 2011 Disney Channel movie, "Geek Charming," which saw her star alongside her then-boyfriend Matt Prokop. Hyland portrayed a spoiled heiress type while Prokop played a film geek and her unexpected love interest. The pair had been dating since 2009 and lived together. At the time, she told Teen Vogue: "It was so much fun working with him. Whenever we had a long day, it was great to have him on set too."

But in 2014, Hyland revealed that their five-year relationship had not been the fairy tale romance it seemed. They split in August, at which time Prokop checked himself into a rehab facility. When he was due for release in September, Hyland secured a temporary restraining order against him and revealed in court that he had been verbally and physically abusive toward her during their relationship.

The trauma of this affected her for years. "A lot of people like to think that once you're out of an abusive situation, it ends there, but it doesn't," she explained to Refinery29. "The emotional trauma and scars on the soul stay there, and they impact you for the rest of your life if you don't get help." Hyland felt she was able to make something good come out of the experience, working with SHE RECOVERS, an organization that provides resources for women in abusive situations.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

She found love again with her Vampire Academy co-star

After appearing in 2014's "Vampire Academy," Sarah Hyland found love again with her co-star Dominic Sherwood. Gushing about him to E!, Hyland said: "He's amazing. He's an amazing person. We became such good friends on Vampire Academy." This friendship quickly blossomed into a relationship, and the pair began dating in 2015.

Over the course of their relationship, the pair guest-starred on each other's shows. Sherwood was starring as Jace on "Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments" at the time, and Hyland appeared as an older version of the Seelie Queen. While they did have scenes together on "Shadowhunters," in a funny twist, Sherwood appeared on "Modern Family" as a love interest for her character Haley's younger sister, Alex (Ariel Winter).

Ultimately, their relationship didn't last, and the pair split amicably in 2017. But they acknowledged that their time together helped bring out the best in each other. In 2016, Sherwood told Entertainment Tonight: "Sarah makes me want to be a better version of myself. That's what I love most about her. She inspires me to be the best version of me." Following their split, Hyland moved on with "The Bachelorette" star Wells Adams, whom she met on social media, a few months later.

Hyland has had a difficult health journey

If you follow Sarah Hyland on social media, you'll know that she has had a difficult health journey. The actor has undergone a total of 16 surgeries throughout her life to combat the reproductive disease, endometriosis, and kidney dysplasia, a disease which hindered the development of her kidneys as a fetus. As a result of the disease, cysts grew on her kidneys and she eventually needed a kidney transplant.

Hyland had her first transplant in 2012 when her dad donated one of his kidneys. But sadly, after a few years, her body started rejecting the organ, and she needed another transplant. In 2017, her brother offered to donate one of his. The surgery was successful, but having to go through a second transplant took a toll on Hyland, who was really struggling with her mental health at the time.

"When a family member gives you a second chance at life, and it fails, it almost feels like it's your fault. It's not. But it does," she reflected to Self. "For a long time, I was contemplating suicide, because I didn't want to fail my little brother like I failed my dad." But Hyland said that speaking about how she was feeling helped her work through things. "It's not a shameful thing to share," she added.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

She likes playing characters that are nothing like her

Sarah Hyland has famously said that she didn't really "relate" to her "Modern Family" character, Haley. "I don't know how she goes about life because I'm more like Claire," the actor admitted to Glamour. "I think the only time I ever really connected with Haley was the episode where she's not good at cooking."

But, while this might sound like a negative thing, or something that makes Hyland's job harder, understanding the psychology of a character that is different from herself and attempting to see the world through a different lens is something she actually enjoys. So when Hyland took on the role of Mara in the 2019 rom-com, "The Wedding Year," she found it exciting to explore a new perspective.

The "Modern Family" star challenged herself to understand Mara's negative views on marriage and relationships, which didn't align with her own. "It was a lot of fun to be able to go into her ticks and see why she's wired the way that she is," she told The Hollywood Reporter after filming the movie.

Life after Modern Family was a bit of a transition

"Modern Family" coming to an end was a monumental moment in Sarah Hyland's life. She was overcome with emotion after the final episode aired in April 2020, but she tried to focus on the positives of the 11-year-long experience. Alongside sharing a series of behind-the-scenes snaps on Instagram, Hyland paid tribute to the show. She wrote: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. To put it in Bachelor terms, I've had an incredible journey with this show. Our cast and crew were always phenomenal and we very quickly grew to be a real life Modern Family. I will miss these people tremendously, but am so grateful I was lucky enough to work with them."

Nevertheless, change can be scary, and Hyland admitted she was anxious about transitioning into the next chapter of her life. "The thing as an actor is it's like, 'Will I have a job tomorrow?'" she pondered to Cosmopolitan. "With 'Modern Family' ending, it's like, 'Oh, great. I'm never going to work again. I'm going to have to sell everything and live out of a shoebox.'"

But Hyland chose to push through those worries and set her sights on new, diverse opportunities. Alongside producing more content, she has been dabbling in dramas, musicals, and period pieces. She started with the 2022 rom-com, "My Fake Boyfriend," which was her first movie role since the sitcom ended, starring alongside Keiynan Lonsdale and Dylan Sprouse.

She finally got her fairy tale wedding with Wells Adams

Sarah Hyland's next chapter after "Modern Family" included getting married to her long-time beau Well Adams. The couple planned to get married in 2020 but were forced to postpone their wedding because of COVID-19, but finally tied the knot in August 2022.

Hyland and Wells pulled out all the stops for their wedding, which took place on a vineyard in California. It was set over multiple days, kicking off with their rehearsal dinner on the night before the wedding. To finish off the celebrations for all the guests who were staying at the vineyard, the newlyweds held a mimosa brunch the morning after their nuptials. Among the many guests in attendance were Hyland's "Modern Family" co-stars, Olympic snowboarder Shaun White alongside "The Vampire Diaries" star Nina Dobrev. Hyland's on-screen uncle Jesse Tyler Ferguson officiated the ceremony, while "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens stood beside her as one of her bridesmaids.

For the main event, Hyland donned two Vera Wang dresses. She chose the first one — a tulle ballgown — ahead of her original wedding date, but ended up also falling in love with a lace, fitted gown during a later fitting. "There was no way I could decide between the two, so I ended up adding another look to my array of dress moments," she explained to Vogue.

Hyland has adored married life

Sarah Hyland might have kept her surname, but she has proudly claimed her spot in the Adams family. Just a few months after marrying the "Bachelor in Paradise" star, Wells Adams, Hyland shared a photo of the pair dressed up as Gomez and Morticia Addams for Halloween on Instagram, which she captioned "The official Adams Family."

The actor continued to share snaps with her hubby on social media throughout their first year of married life before posting a special tribute in honor of their one-year anniversary. Alongside a photo from their wedding day, Hyland gushed about how much she has taken a liking to married life. "One year married to you flew by in a blink of an eye," she gushed on her Instagram. "You're my HUSBAND. My best friend. My true north. I love you more than words can say and every day is the best day when I'm with you. Marriage is [the] most fun I've ever had because I get to be married to you."

Her health issues have shaped her life

Sarah Hyland's health journey has defined her life and, at times, been very difficult for the "Modern Family" star to cope with. But the actor has accepted that it not only made her fiercely independent but also led to a greater sense of self-love, which she enjoys sharing with the world.

"My body has been through a lot of transformations. The more outspoken we as women are, the more accepting people will be," Hyland told Maire Claire. "There's always going to be horrible people in the world trying to spread hate and negativity, but if you shower yourself with self-love, you will be able to overcome that. Our voices will shine brighter over the darkness that is trying to be put upon us."

In a bid to shine her brightest light and honor her body's many transformations, Hyland posed topless for an Olay photoshoot in 2019. In 2022, she set out to help other people feel better in their skin, working as the creative director and co-founder of the health supplement company, Sourse, which specializes in bite-size vitamins.

She and Adam Devine linked up again on TV

Sarah Hyland and Adam Devine's characters may not have gone the distance in "Modern Family" — fans of the sitcom know Haley ended up with Reid Ewing's Dylan Marshall — but the real-life friends getting a do-over as Heidi and Bumper Allen in the "Pitch Perfect" spin-off series, "Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin."

Playing shy singer-songwriter Heidi was a role Hyland just couldn't turn down, and reuniting with Devine was the icing on the cake. "It was so much fun being back together. When I was given this opportunity to work with Adam again, I just jumped at it because we love each other," she voiced to Entertainment Tonight.

The show, which premiered in 2022, was an exciting new challenge for Hyland, who has enjoyed getting to show off her musical abilities. "It was just such a joy to be singing again, not just in my shower or car. It was great," she confessed to Screen Rant.

Hyland entered her reality TV hosting era with Love Island

Since "Modern Family" ended, Sarah Hyland has been able to pick and choose the acting projects that have felt right for her. But she has certainly not been lacking for work as she has entered her reality TV host era. Since 2020, Hyland has been a guest judge on "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" as well as regularly hosting the reality competition series, "Play-Doh Squished," which she also executive produces.

Some may call Hyland's transition into reality TV an unexpected career move, but the actor was thrilled to be the new face of shows like "Love Island USA," which she was named the host of in 2022. She revealed on "TODAY with Hoda and Jenna" that she didn't exactly have to think long and hard about accepting the hot hosting gig. "I love 'Love Island' in all of the forms of it — everywhere, all of the countries — so it was definitely a quick 'yes' for me," Hyland admitted.

Her style has evolved over the years

When Sarah Hyland first arrived on the set of "Modern Family" she was a fresh-faced 18-year-old posing as someone even younger. It's inevitable that her style is going to change in the span of 15 years.

For Hollywood events, Hyland dressed for her age when she was in her late teens and early twenties, often donning mini dresses and skirts in bright colors and the occasional floral print. By the time she reached her mid-to-late twenties, Hyland had subtly side-stepped into wearing more sophisticated red carpet outfits, and it's fair to say she has had something of a glow-up as her style has evolved over the years.

Although she is known for having long brown locks, Hyland has switched up her hair color and style a few times, too. Hyland revisited one of her chicest hairstyles in 2024 – a short blunt bob with heavy bangs. This is a style she also had in 2021, but she chose to grow it out to keep her hair longer for her wedding. As she's set to attend more premieres for projects she has produced and starred in, Hyland's style, and personal, evolution will be sure to continue.