Eva Longoria’s power to give Latino community a voice
Actress, producer and director: there is no role in cinema that Longoria has not played yet. She says she still has a lot of work to do for the Latinos in US.
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She belongs to the ninth generation of US born Latino of her Mexican family. “I never crossed the border, the border crossed us. And when people say 'Go home', I answer: 'But this is home for us'”, Longoria said in her appearance in episode 3 of Seen, a tv show hosted by Nick Bareli.
Longoria grew up in a Mexican neighborhood in Corpus Christi, Texas. She was not aware of her identity as a Latina until her first day in a White-American school. “I didn't really feel Mexican because we didn't need to say that because we were all in the same neighborhood together”, said. But the difference between having Pop-Tart and bean tacos as breakfast helped Longoria to discover part of her unrevealed identity: “Oh my God I am different and I don’t know why. And it was confusing to them, not to me; because I didn't have an accent and I didn't look Mexican”, commented.
A non-Spanish-Speaking Mexican
English was the main spoken language in Longoria’s house, in the same way it still is in many Latino’s homes in the United States. “My parents didn't want me to be discriminated against for speaking Spanish so I never learned it until my adult life, until I married a Mexican”, she says.
This anecdote repeated a couple of times throughout her life-time specially when she visited Los Angeles for the very first time. “They asked me to speak Spanish and I said I don’t speak Spanish. And they asked me: how could you be Latino and not speak Spanish? There are a lot of us that don’t speak Spanish either!”. Even not being fluent in Spanish stopped Longoria from getting inspired by Latinas celebrities like Selena (Texicana like Longoria), Salma Hayek and Rita Moreno.
Hollywood was never in her bucket-list
Longoria’s family values studies very much and probably this is why Eva and her parents have never dreamed about her future career in Hollywood. A talent competition allowed her to travel to Los Angeles in 1998: that opportunity has changed her life forever. “I won everything and all the agents wanted. At that time, being Latina opened doors and I was lucky”, commented. The beginnings were not easy and she had to have a part-time job.
After 30 years of that, Longoria could proudly say that she has not just acted, but produced directed movies. Her career as a director helped her to improve her self confidence and skills in a professional field dominated by men. “I had to work twice as hard on my vision and my presentation. In my debut I thought: I am a woman, I am Latina, first-time director: everything is against me. But it worked and I got the job”, recalled. “Being underestimated is the best position to be in, because you have to prove to yourself and people that you can do it”, added.
Longoria’s commitment with the Latino community
With her production studio, Longoria will continue giving young Latino artists opportunities to start and improve their career development. "We exist, we're here, we're in this industry. So, I want to be able to create those job opportunities for them, and give them that experience”, said.
In addition to her multiple roles in movies, the actress is also recognized for her fight for the inclusion of the Latino community in America. “Political activism will never go away as our communities are still underserved and underrepresented. I always go out and encourage the Latino community to speak up for itself and the way you speak up for yourself is by voting, by participating, being informed and getting involved”.
At 46 years old, Longoria's energy seems inexhaustible. “I still have so much to act, direct and produce. My foundation is going to be my lifeworks”, concluded.