It’s Tuesday. Today, some folks woke up hot and bothered at the fact that Eva Longoria kicked off the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on Monday night, while others who know her history tapped in to defend her record and check outspoken Republicans who thought it wise to judge the 9th generation U.S. American actress for her celebrity whilst the United States’ current president is television personality Donald Trump.
“We always hear that line about this year being the most important election of our lifetime… but this year, it really is,” Longoria said, going on to expand on the layered catastrophic nature of this particular moment being a years-in-the-making avalanche rather than a sudden tectonic shift. With an impending economic crisis, devastating pandemic and constant attempts to undo inclusive access such as the USPS and pillars of what’s left of our democracy, she isn’t wrong.
“Yet, in the middle of the fear and sorrow and the uncertainty,” she said, “people have come together because they know we are better than this. America is better than this.” Longoria’s opening bite-sized speech was just a few seconds less than the allotted time Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will get come Tuesday night. The rest of the week will reportedly be hosted by three other stars that we know of so far: namely, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
Longoria opened the night and also served as an emcee, connecting the many parts (both live and pre-recorded) that made up the two-hour program. The night featured input from the likes of Bernie Sanders, Michelle Obama, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Republicans like John Kasich and more who voiced support for Joe Biden. The kickoff for the convention was rife with discussion starters—including the need for a continued fight for justice, as stated by George Floyd’s brothers.
Meanwhile, many Republicans such as Marco Rubio chose to focus on Longoria’s inclusion as if it was completely out of pocket. “I guess it’s only white men that can transition from celebrity to governor and president,” wrote Planned Parenthood public affairs officer Daisy Prado.
Senator Marco Rubio, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for U.S. president in 2016, mockingly tweeted that “no one is more in touch with the challenges and obstacles faced by everyday Americans than actors [and] celebrities.”
While true that Longoria isn’t directly in-tune with the struggles of the working class given her wealth and status, the Desperate Housewives actress does have a history of fighting for the rights and progress of working class Latinos.
In 2014, Longoria executive produced a documentary called Food Chains. The doc is about tomatoes, the tomato pickers who fought to shake up the agricultural industry and, more generally, exploitation of farmworkers as a way of modern-day slavery.
The Hollywood Reporter named the director Philanthropist of the Year in 2015. She backed Hillary Clinton all the way in 2016, went into a depression following Trump’s win, and rechanneled her energy into expanding the narrative of farmworkers with The Harvest/La Cosecha in 2017.
For Longoria, the platform makes way for the purpose. “I’ve always seen acting as a means to an end, which has been my philanthropic work,” she said in 2015. “I always knew that was going to be my life’s work.”
This year, Longoria joined an initiative to double Latine representation in Hollywood by 2030, and joined the Latino Victory Fund to endorse and raise awareness of Latina candidates running for office.
Celebrities at the conventions isn’t a new feat. In 2016, actresses like Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, Chloë Grace Mortez, and, you guessed it, Eva Longoria made introductions and speeches of their own.
“I believe in the candidate who believes in all of us,” Longoria said at the IRL DNC gathering at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center in July 2016. Although, as we know, that year didn’t quite go as planned, Longoria is again doing what she can to educate and empower her community ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
In a year when, again, Latinos are poised to be an important part of deciding who the next president of the United States will be, the DNC made some questionable choices when it came to representation this year, but this was not one of them.
“People think that in order to create change, you have to be a politician,” she told The Guardian in 2019. “That’s a myth. You can be anybody. You can be a concerned mother and create significant change.”