Elizabeth Pena died on Tuesday of natural causes after a brief illness at the age of 55 years old, according to the actress' manager, Gina Rugolo.
In addition to numerous projects on the big and small screens over three decades, she was also just the fourth Latina member of the Director's Guild of America.
Among her many roles, Pena is known for appearing as the mother of Gloria, the character played by Sofia Vergara, in the ABC sitcom Modern Family.
Among Elizabeth Pena's other career highlights included roles in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, La Bamba, Rush Hour and The Incredibles.
Lou Diamond Phillips, who starred in La Bamba, Tweeted:
"I am stunned and heartbroken, just found out about the passing of my friend Elizabeth Pena. She was such a Life Force it's hard to believe."
"Elizabeth was not only an amazing actress, she was one of the most vibrant, wonderful people I have ever known. My prayers to her family," he said.
Born in Elizabeth, N.J., Pena graduated from New York's High School of Performing Arts in 1977. She is survived by her mother, a sister, her husband, and two children.