Eva Longoria—She Is Power Woman, Hear Her Roar

PREVIOUS POSTHere’s How The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas Is Remodeling For 2018
NEXT POSTGalas Galore! A Preview Of Next Week's SF Symphony Gala

eva.2WE’RE PLAYING TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE WITH EVA LONGORIA. She has presented us with the following options: 1) she used to sell beer out of her college dorm room, 2) she shot somebody, and 3) she once burned down a house. This one’s a no-brainer. ‘Though she may be little, she is fierce…’ and she’s Texan. We totally think she shot a man, and tell her so. Bingo! But did she kill him? Well, no.

“I shot somebody in the foot,” she admits. “I did that with a BB gun when I was a child, but it wasn’t a serious injury.” Still—what street cred! We always knew that the 42-year-old actress, producer, director, designer, activist, philanthropist, restaurateur, author and businesswoman was a badass… we just didn’t know that she started quite so young. These days, Longoria has better aim—when she shoots, she scores. Her list of achievements, in a nutshell (both during and after her tenyear Golden Globe-nominated run as Gabrielle Solis on ABC’s Desperate Housewives) include opening Beso, a restaurant collaboration with master chef Todd English; publishing the cookbook Eva’s Kitchen: Cooking with Love for Family and Friends; founding the non-profit Eva’s Heroes, a charity that helps developmentally disabled children; launching her UnbeliEVAble Entertainment production company, which is in the midst of a two-year first-look agreement deal with Universal Pictures; becoming one of seven Californians named to co-chair Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012; and even finding the time to go back to school—she received her Master’s degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge in 2013. This year, she also released a dedicated clothing line, her eponymous Eva Longoria Collection.

Committing to so many different interests would spread most people thin, but not this girl. She knows what she wants and goes after it with gusto.

Don’t be fooled by her diminutive size—no one so successful gets there on luck alone. Take this interview, for example. We’re sitting in a suite at the newly opened Dream Hollywood Hotel post-photo shoot. Longoria has gamely strutted around wearing nothing but bodysuits, big hair and a smile for hours. She is an endless ball of energy, giggling naughtily with stylist Ken Pavés, referring to herself as the “Latina Tina Turner” while tossing around a lion’s mane of hair and working each shot like a boss. But when she enters this room, alone, she’s a different Eva. She is focused, thoughtful, quiet, confident and calm. She is ready for a power talk. She is ready to work.

“It’s a myth that you can’t have it all,” she starts. “When I was younger, I got some great advice: you can have it all—just maybe not all at the same time.” She adds, “That doesn’t mean you should stop trying to balance everything and strive to be the best you can be every day.” That said, a true power woman is one who never gives up the hope of having it all, who manages to multitask like a mofo, who charts her own course. That’s what she does, at least—because the quintessential ‘power woman’ cannot be just one thing: she must be all things.

This woman, says Longoria, is a juggler—like herself, a woman who can work on her clothing line for eight straight hours, do a photo shoot and still find the time to take her step-kids to Nobu for dinner. “This is somebody who’s really taking control of her life, career-wise and personally,” she says, before referencing the inequality in Hollywood, which she has spoken about publicly time and again. “We still have such a gender gap, whether it’s equal pay or equal opportunities. Any time you can highlight a woman doing [something that shows her power], it’s a huge victory for us, because then other women can go, ‘OK, I’m not reinventing the wheel. Somebody else blazed this trail before me, so let me just follow that example, or follow her lead. But [it’s hard] to be what you don’t see.”

What gives Longoria that kind of power—to be a leader, to dare to speak out—is to test herself. “I always rise to the challenge,” she declares. “I love a challenge. When I started directing, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know what I’m doing… but I’ll figure it out. And I did; I learned. I was on set my entire life. I used Desperate Housewives as my film school, and so I paid attention to where the cameras go, where the lights go, lenses, camera shots and angles. I paid attention, and that’s half the battle in life—being curious, staying curious and then satisfying your curiosity.”

Knowledge might actually be what makes her feel the most powerful. “I feel very, very confident in the things that I know,” she says. “I know how to direct; I direct really well. I know how to act; I know how to produce. When I feel confident, it’s because I’m well-researched, I am resourceful, I am prepared. I’m at my most powerful when I’m prepared to do something, whether it’s acting, directing, my charity work, speaking or doing a photo shoot.” Her ‘big hair, don’t care’ confidence has been mistaken for something else a little less empowering in the past—something that begins with a ‘b’ and ends with an ‘itch’—but it doesn’t faze her in the slightest.

“A lot of people confuse confidence in a woman with bitchiness. They’re like, ‘She’s so bitchy!’ and I’m like, ‘You know, [a so-called ‘bitchy’] woman is someone who knows what she wants, who is very clear about what she wants, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” Although she’s a well-established member of the Hollywood haute monde and, therefore, left open to criticism, she deals with it as a power woman would—she shrugs and moves on with her life. “I don’t take anything personally ever,” she swears. “It’s like a law, an agreement that I follow in my life. Hillary Clinton said it best: she takes criticism seriously, but not personally. So, she thinks about what a lot of her constituents would say, but she’s not hurt by it.”

Longoria isn’t one to keep her head down and chin up, either. Like Clinton, she simply ignores the haters and focuses on what’s really important to her: work. “I’m really lucky that I found something that I love to do. Waking up every morning, I can’t wait to get to the office, to begin creating. I love directing and producing, I really do. I love being in charge of the final product. As an actor, you stand on a mark and say your line and go home. You don’t know what take [the director] is going to use, what [tone] they’re going to use, who they’re going to cast opposite you. I like being more in control of what story I’m telling.”

eva.3

The stories she’s telling thus far are diverse. She has served as both director and executive producer on various series such as Telenovela and Devious Maids, as well as documentaries like Latinos Living the American Dream and the upcoming Ours is a Future, and even produced blockbusters like the 2014 action flick John Wick. Longoria doesn’t discriminate with her choices, but she does select anything that falls under her UnbeliEVAble Entertainment umbrella very, very carefully. Next up, she’ll direct a second episode of ABC’s black-ish; Dylan McDermott’s new show, L.A.>Vegas; along with The Mick starring actress/comedian Kaitlin Olson. And while she prefers being in control behind the camera, Longoria hasn’t given up acting quite yet.

Next up, she’ll appear in a remake of the 1987 comedy Overboard with one very notable plot twist: a gender role reversal to suit the needs of both Longoria and her 21st century power girl sisters. In Garry Marshall’s original version, Goldie Hawn plays a spoiled, wealthy heiress who falls into the ocean and, after suffering from amnesia, is tricked into believing she’s the wife of a carpenter (Kurt Russell) whom she mistreated. In the modern-day version, Anna Faris is the mistreated employee; Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez the wealthy yacht owner. In the film, in theaters April 20, 2018, perpetual girl’s girl Longoria plays a role she’s quite familiar with: Faris’ BFF… and boss.

“I’m so excited for Overboard,” she enthuses. “I’ve always been a fan of the movie, as well as Eugenio Derbez and Anna Faris, so I called my agent and was like, ‘I want to read that script. Are there any other parts in that movie?’ There was, so I met with the directors, called Eugenio and said, ‘I’m such a big fan of Anna’s, I just want to work with you and Anna.’ And then I got the part.” According to Longoria, the contemporary version is a nearly-identical remake of the original. “It’s almost scene by scene the same,” she confirms. “We’re honoring the original movie, putting a contemporary spin on it and flipping the genders. It actually works better this way, the woman who’s a single mom, overwhelmed, using the man as a worker.” She adds with a laugh, “Like, ‘You go make the money, you go work hard and do hard labor!’ It’s really funny.”

She also recently shot Jamie Foxx’s directorial and writing debut, All-Star Weekend, which follows two tow-truck drivers and die-hard basketball fans—played by Foxx and Jeremy Piven—who win tickets to the NBA All-Star Game. Longoria plays a beautiful and enigmatic character named Asia. Although there isn’t much to share about the film, which does not currently have a slated release date, she does say of Foxx, “He’s an amazing human being. I mean, he’s not even a friend, he’s family. So when he asked me to do this, I was like, ‘Done.’ I didn’t even need to read it, I didn’t even know what the role was—I just knew I wanted to work with Jamie. He’s a great person, an amazing actor and a great director.”

eva.4

Another project is too hush-hush for her to speak about (the secret script involves a girl-powered all-female cast) and there’s also little to share about the return of another mostly-female show that we all know and love. We’re sorry to break the bad news to Desperate Housewives fans because, as much as Longoria would like to see the grand return of her character, Gabrielle Solis, it isn’t in this house of cards. “Everybody always asks me if we’re doing a remake, and I always say no because [creator Marc Cherry] says no, and only because we did… 24 episodes a year for ten years [180, to be exact]. We fully mined those characters; there’s not really a lot left to say.”

That said, she’d be down for a role reprisal if the powers-that-be gave the all-clear. “I miss Gaby every day,” she admits. “I miss playing her, I miss being her, I miss Wisteria Lane, I miss the girls [her co-stars included Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher]. So, you never know.” LOVES OF A LIFETIME There are girl’s girls, there are guy’s girls, and then there’s Eva Longoria—who can hang with the guys, but is a tried and true BFF to many (and that stands for ‘best female friend’, as well as ‘best friend forever’). “Some people collect art; they collect things like snow globes. I collect great women in my life,” Eva Longoria tells us, adding, “If I had a shelf, I would put them all on the shelf and say ‘These are my women in my life.’”

She chalks up a universal love for her gender to the fact that she was raised in an almost all-female household—the youngest of four in Corpus Christi, Texas. “I just love women!” she declares. “I grew up with three sisters. I grew up with a lot of aunts. I have no brothers, so I always lean on a community of women for advice, for support, for consoling or applauding—for everything. I love my female friendships. I’ve had friendships that have lasted 25 years, and some that are just [a year in]. I think that people come into your life for a reason, whether it’s for a laugh, advice or support. I just love to invest in people—in women—that have the same value system as me.”

One of those women is Kerry Washington, with whom she’ll be costarring in the recently announced 24-7, a remake of the 1980 workplace comedy 9 to 5 that co-starred Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Longoria will produce the Universal-acquired film through UnbeliEVAble. “It’s not 9 to 5 anymore—people work 24-7!” Longoria declares. “[The movie will star] Kerry and I, plus a young millennial we haven’t cast yet.” She couldn’t resist the golden opportunity to work with the Scandal star, whom she met as a brand ambassador for L’Oréal Paris. “We’ve been friends for 15 years—she’s amazing. She’s the black Eva, and I’m the Latina Kerry. People are always like, ‘You guys sound alike, look alike, act alike.’ We’re doing the same things in life. We’re both politically active, we both go on TV shows. We’re definitely soulmates. We’re like sisters.”

eva.1

“WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I GOT SOME GREAT ADVICE: YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL—JUST MAYBE NOT ALL AT THE SAME TIME”

The rest of her squad is equally substantial. Her nearest and dearest include everyone from Melanie Griffith and Victoria Beckham (whom she refers to as “one of the funniest people I know”) to her former Housewives costars Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross to her mother, Ella Eva, who gave her the single best piece of advice she’s ever received (the words “Don’t forget where you came from” actually prompted Longoria to start her foundation). In fact, many of these gal pals were on hand for a very special occasion: Longoria’s May 22, 2016 wedding to third husband, businessman José Antonio ‘Pepe’ Bastón in Valle de Bravo, Mexico (in fact, Beckham even designed her wedding dress). That she and Bastón eventually tied the knot—three years and five months after their four-hour lunch first date—was a surprise to no one more than Longoria, who was initially introduced to the Mexican entrepreneur through a mutual friend in 2013. She was fresh off her 2011 divorce from NBA player Tony Parker, and thought nothing of Bastón— until she re-met him.

“We actually didn’t feel anything,” Longoria recalls with a fond smile. “We were just like, ‘Hello. Hello,’ and that was it. When we met six months later, that was the sparks.” And where there are sparks, there’s usually fire… but, according to Longoria, not enough that she suspected they’d one day be saying ‘I do.’ “I mean, I enjoyed his presence—his presence lingered. I just remember thinking, ‘I want to spend more time with this person.’ Then we evolved into this beautiful thing and now I can’t imagine my life without him. I actually don’t remember my life before him. We talk about it all the time like, ‘What were we doing before each other?’”

Needless to say, that post-honeymoon glow is still going strong (their actual trip was an exotic adventure in Siem Reap, Cambodia). “I feel incredibly lucky to have found an amazing companion in life that enjoys the things that I enjoy. We both love to travel, we both love wine, we both love art, we both love family, and we have the same priorities. We didn’t change each other. It was like, if we could order [someone] online, we would’ve received each other.” The things she would never even ask for, Bastón delivers. “I’m really, really spoiled. He wants to make sure that he makes me the happiest woman in the world every single day—and he does. He’s just a kind human being, and that’s a really big word. He’s kind to everybody, whether it’s the waiter or the president. I am very, very lucky.”

Another reason that Longoria is clearly Lady Luck: her passion is travel and she indulges that wanderlust often—be it an exotic adventure like her honeymoon or glamorous jaunts through Europe, Vancouver (where she filmed Overboard), Australia (where she recently shot a Spec Savers campaign), Moscow with L’Oréal, and Asia for a photo shoot, among others. “The greatest luxury in life is travel,” she notes. “So my life revolves around where I want to go next—my bucket list of places. Last year, we went to India because I hadn’t been before. This year, we were going to go to Peru [although the trip got postponed]. We love Napa; we went to Bordeaux this year. We are going to Africa next year. My life revolves around where to go next.” When asked if she’ll ever stop her wanderings to have children, she shrugs. “I don’t know,” she says. “It’s not something that’s a topic right now for us.”

Longoria, who is the stepmother of Bastón’s four children, is pragmatic about procreation—and realistic about the phrase ‘having it all.’ “Right now, I don’t have children of my own, and that makes it a little easier [to do everything]. I get how hard it is for full-time moms who are trying to have it all. When someone says ‘You have it all,’ well, I don’t have children, so it’s easier to move around the world. If Pepe and I want to go to Paris for dinner, we go to Paris for dinner, and that’s different when you’re a full-time parent.” Though Pepe’s children aren’t her own, they couldn’t be more important to her. “Everything revolves around our children and our family,” she says. And whether it’s the life she helps to provide for her family, the trips she takes, or the content she creates—from her films to her new clothing line—Longoria tries to bring beauty to everything she touches. It’s the way she sees the world: as a pretty wonderful place that’s ripe for the picking. When we ask her to describe herself, we whole-heartedly agree with her choices.

“I’m definitely compassionate and driven and energetic,” she says. “I like to combine those things with anything I do.” She quotes Maya Angelou to us: “‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ I agree with that. Anybody I interact with, whether it’s a fan or family member, I try to make them feel as special as they deserve.” She pauses. “It’s funny—I don’t remember what my husband said to me exactly on our first anniversary, but I remember feeling filled with love and abundance and joy. I don’t remember what I did in high school, but I know who my best friend was because she made me feel safe and secure.”

In response to our own nostalgic contribution, Longoria adds, “Or [you can remember] the opposite! You go, ‘She made me feel like shit’— and that’s the only thing you remember about her. You kind of remember the argument, you kind of remember the circumstance but, most of all, you remember how you felt.” With all her travels, she clearly packs this sentiment along with her to whatever exotic part of the world she goes. “You just have to know, you have to be aware, that you have that effect on others, that you have that power… so use it to make people feel good.” Spoken like a true power woman.

eva.6

connect with haute living Chicago
Loader