NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Eva Longoria attends Apple TV+'s

INTERVIEW: Eva Longoria on Not Being ‘Latina Enough’ & Learning Spanish in Her 40’s

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 20: Eva Longoria attends Apple TV+'s "Land Of Women" World Premiere at The Whitby Hotel on June 20, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Although she grew up in a Mexican American family in South Texas, Eva Longoria didn’t learn Spanish as a kid. When she married a Mexican businessman in her early 40s, that’s when she found a “deeper connection” to her Mexican heritage.

“It wasn’t until I married a Mexican and I lived in Mexico City that I really became fluent … when you immerse yourself in the culture,” Longoria, 49, told Remezcla during a recent interview, admitting that not knowing Spanish was a bit ostracizing. “I always felt judged for not speaking Spanish. And I always went, ‘I gotta learn, I gotta learn.”

This has led her to be more conscious in raising her 6 year-old son to speak Spanish in contrast to how she was raised and how her parents wanted her to assimilate within the United States. Longoria jokingly shared, “I’m so mad at my mom for not teaching me Spanish cuz my parents speak Spanish but they just really wanted me to be assimilated and they really didn’t want me to get in trouble speaking Spanish in school.” And it’s gotten to the point where “He’s 6 and he speaks perfect Spanish and he’s always correcting me.” 

In her nearly 25-year career in Hollywood, Longoria has also spoken Spanish sparingly in her TV and film roles. She remembers going into auditions where producers were surprised that she didn’t speak Spanish and didn’t speak English with an accent. “I would go on auditions and they would be like ‘You look Latina but you don’t speak Spanish’” before asking “Can you do it with an accent?”

Eva Longoria in Land of Women
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This left her feeling like, “I wasn’t Latin enough [but also] too Latina. It was definitely hard.”

For her latest TV series, Land of Women, Longoria had to learn Castilian, a dialect of the Spanish language originally from north central Spain. In the bilingual series, Longoria plays Gala, a wealthy New Yorker who is forced to flee to Spain with her teen daughter and mother after her husband falls into debt with some shady characters.

For her role, Longoria’s character speaks Spanish to her daughter Kate, played by Mexican actress Victoria Bazúa, and Castilian to her mother Julia, played by Spanish actress Carmen Maura. “[Land of Women] is in a whole other idioma,” Longoria said. “It’s a whole mix of Spanish dialects … and a true reflection of [who] we are – such a diverse community.”

On the set, Longoria found herself taking a lot of advice from Bazúa, her young co-star, when it was time for her to deliver her lines in Spanish. When Bazúa was cast to play Longoria’s daughter, everyone thought it was a perfect fit. “I thought that it made more sense if I’m her mother because I have a Mexican accent,” Longoria said. “It all fell into place.”

Eva Longoria, Victoria Bazua, and Carmen Maura in Land of Women
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Born in Mexico City, Bazúa said it’s always been natural for her to transition from Spanish to English, especially since she started speaking the latter when she was in kindergarten. “Carmen [would tell Eva], ‘Oh, in Spain, we say like this,’ but then I was like, ‘But in Mexico, we say it this way,’” Bazúa, 17, said. “I think we both helped each other.”

Longoria added: “Carmen would tell me, ‘It’s like this,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t say that.’ I couldn’t wrap my tongue around the words. So, I would go to Victoria and say, ‘How would you say this?’ And she would tell me, and I was like, ‘OK, that’s so much easier.’”

Longoria wasn’t the only one learning things on the set. Bazúa, too, took everything Longoria told her to heart. Land of Women is the first role of her career. “I remember one time [Eva] was like, ‘If you want to be an actress, do it for the love and passion you have for acting and not just to be famous,’” Bazúa said. “I keep that with me every day.”

Land of Women premieres on AppleTV+ on June 26, 2024.