Continuing our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we spotlight actress and activist Eva Longoria, who’s proven she’s a lot more interested than collecting a Hollywood paycheck.
“I think it’s funny when people say I’m an overnight sensation, because I’ve been working at it for 10 years,” Eva Longoria told Maxim magazine after the premiere of Desperate Housewives, the ABC series that put the Latina star on the map.
Indeed, the beautiful actress and social activist began her career long before her 2004 breakthrough on the television show that catapulted the Texas native into mega stardom. In fact, she wasn’t even really planning a profession in Hollywood until she was spotted by a theatrical agent after she had won the title of Miss Corpus Christi, USA in 1988. Before winning the crown, Longoria majored in Kinesiology as an undergrad at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Even though Longoria, 38, appeared on a couple of soap operas, including General Hospital and Young and the Restless, it was on Desperate Housewives that Longoria really stood out. Some credit her role as Gabrielle Solis as a major boost for Latinos in Hollywood.
As Solis, Longoria played a sassy former model who was unhappily married to a successful businessman and ends up having an affair with their teen gardener. Up to that point, a pivotal Latina character like Solis had never been seen before, especially not on primetime. In 2006 she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. She also garnered three ALMA Awards, which celebrates Latinos in Hollywood, including Person of the Year in 2006.
Because of the show’s success, Longoria put Latinas at the forefront of Hollywood and in the media. Just as Jennifer Lopez put a Latina face on feature film, Longoria did the same for the small screen.
The inspirational aspect to Longoria’s career is that she wasn’t simply defined by her role on Desperate Housewives. Despite the show ending in 2012, Longoria continues to be vocal about important causes, which includes immigration, encouraging Latinos to be involved politically, and pushing for the creation of a museum dedicated to the American Latino experience. Recently, she had been appointed co-chair to President Obama’s re-election campaign and has been involved in numerous philanthropic projects, including spearheading her own nonprofit, The Eva Longoria Foundation.
Longoria has shown her skills as an entrepreneur and businesswoman. Not only is she a Los Angeles club and restaurant owner, she’s also released a cookbook and has worked behind the scenes as a successful producer.
In 2013 Longoria produced the reality show Ready for Love, which paired up single bachelorettes with well-to-do bachelors. She’s also delved into the scripted realm with the Lifetime original series Devious Maids, which is the first series ever that features a lineup of all Latinas including Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Edy Ganem, and Judy Reyes. The show has already been picked up for a second season.
Whether she’s in front of the camera or behind the scenes, Longoria has proven her talents are versatile and her vision goes way beyond a Hollywood paycheck.