Eva Longoria’s a boss. Literally. She’s the executive producer of Lifetime network’s hit series Devious Maids, which means she calls the shots, but her boss status doesn’t stop there. Since taking over American living rooms over 8 seasons with her lead role in ABC’s Desperate Housewives, Longoria has executive produced a handful of documentaries that expose the shady and exploitative practices employed by the American agricultural industry, and the migrant farmworkers who get the short end of the stick. Along the way she got a Master’s Degree in Chicano Studies from Cal State Northridge, and threw her weight behind more charities than would probably fit on this page, prompting The Hollywood Reporter to crown her “Philanthropist of the Year.” Oh, and she keeps acting.
From guest appearances on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, to socially conscious indies like Frontera and the upcoming features Refugio, Low Riders, and Any Day, Longoria clearly isn’t the type to sit around and waste time. And more importantly for us, she has been an outspoken champion for Latino representation in mainstream media. Sure, she caught a little flack for Devious Maids’ perpetuation of the Latina maid stereotype, but as Longoria has continually affirmed, the show actually explodes that stereotype and humanizes characters previously relegated to two-dimensional plot devices.
And this is all because Longoria considers herself an activist above all else. And during her keynote at the annual NALIP Media Summit this past weekend, she explained that she always viewed her acting as a vehicle for her work as a philanthropist and socially conscious producer-director. And as we could expect from her impressive CV, this Tejana farm girl’s also smart as a whip. We’ve gone ahead and written up a few of the more explosive knowledge bombs dropped by Ms. Longoria that you may have missed if you weren’t one of the privileged 250 media movers and shakers invited to attend the lunch.
On La Llorona and Latino Gatekeepers in the Media
“…Words create emotional poison. Hitler moved a nation with words. Just words.”
We have to make sure that Hispanics rise in the ranks to the gatekeepers… Who is opening those doors? I remember last TV season I pitched an anthology genre series “La Llorona” and luckily there was a Latino executive in the room, Joey Chavez, and he said, “I love la llorona!” And I was like, “Yes! You get it!” And he was a decision maker and he was in the room and we got to develop it. But what happens if that person wasn’t in the room?
On Latinos Not Supporting Latino Shows Then Complaining About the Lack of Latino Shows
I remember when the George Lopez show got cancelled and everybody was so upset… And I go: “Did you watch it? Did you watch the George Lopez show?” “No, I mean I don’t watch it, but I am so upset!” And I go: “Well that’s why it got cancelled, because you didn’t watch it.”
So when there’s anything on TV or film, we have to support it. Even if I don’t have time, I will go to the box office and buy a ticket. That’s all. I don’t have to watch it or whatever, but I have to go and support. And that’s a problem with our community. It’s like, “Oh, I don’t like that because that doesn’t reflect me, and I’m offended!”
On Comments That Start With “No Comment” Then Get Really Profound
Everyone’s been coming to me to comment on [Donald Trump’s statements], but I refuse to comment on it. I think what he doesn’t understand and what people don’t understand is words create emotional poison. Hitler moved a nation with words. Just words. And so you have to expect this backlash if you say something like that. You must expect a backlash because it’s struck a chord in our community that touched our emotions so deep, that I don’t want to contribute to that poison being spread. Because if I contribute, then it’s just going to bring more attention to the original comments.
“I would never put my name on something that would ever hurt our community or hurt the image of Hispanics or Latinos in the United States…”
On Pissing Off Donald Trump
A Latino turns 18 every 30 seconds, which is dangerous to some people who don’t want them to vote.
On the Meaning of Latino Content
We have to stop thinking about Latino content and think of a point of view. If it’s your point of view it’s gonna be Latino. I mean, if you’re Latino…
On the Eva Longoria Brand
I hope that when you hear it’s produced by Eva Longoria you go, “Oh, it’s quality.” You know I would never put my name on something that would ever hurt our community or hurt the image of Hispanics or Latinos in the United States or anywhere else because that’s not who I am. I advocate for our community, I advocate for anyone who’s been oppressed. And so I hope that when you see my name on something you go, “Okay, I bet that’s going to be about this.”
The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) advances the development of Latino content creators through its programs like the 2015 NALIP Media Summit focusing on narrative, documentary, TV, and digital formats.