CORPUS CHRISTI, TX-born/TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY-educated/ MISS CORPUS CHRISTI 1998 Actress/Activist/Entrepreneur/Philanthropist EVA LONGORIA is named 2014 LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE WOMAN Of The YEAR and covers their annual THE L.A. WOMAN ISSUE!!!
Here are some interview highlights:
LA: You have three older sisters and nine aunts, so you were blessed with a lot of tough, Texan, Latina role models growing up.
EL: Yes. Though it’s interesting because sometimes Latinas aren’t allowed to be strong. When I was getting my master’s degree, I took a Chicana feminism class, which was very specific to machismo-ism and all of these clichés in our own community. But now, with 40 percent of households having female breadwinners and, in the Latino culture, with the number of women going to college surpassing the number of men, the social construct of gender is being redefined every day—in a great way.
LA: But it’s complicated.
EL: To navigate being a woman is very complicated and hard. There’s no true GPS. You just close your eyes and hope you do your best. And I think you kind of step in shit when you start talking about it in an interview like this. I’ve seen some other people do interviews, and I hear what they’re trying to say, but in a print format sometimes it doesn’t come across, and I feel, Oh, God, that’s a land mine I don’t want to step on. But for me personally, I’m superindependent, I’m a feminist, I’m an activist, and I’m opinionated. At the same time, when I’m in a relationship, I love to feel like the woman. That’s where it gets complicated. Because it’s hard to let go of the reins in your personal life when you control them all day long. I always say, “I love for my boyfriend to pick the restaurants, as long as it’s one of these three restaurants and as long as it’s at eight and not at nine.” Luckily I have a great boyfriend [Jose “Pepe” Antonio Baston, the president of Televisa] who has no problem taking charge.
LA: During your childhood, your father worked on the army base in Corpus Christi and your mother was a teacher for students with special needs. Was that because of your oldest sister, Lisa?
EL: Yes. Lisa was a preemie. Her brain didn’t finish developing, and so it’s similar to if she had Down’s syndrome. She has about a fourth-grade education, and she’s just amazing—the light of our family. So my mom would go to school with her every day to the point where the teacher said, “Do you want to be my assistant?” She became a teacher’s assistant so she could stay in the classroom with my sister, and then she got her associate’s degree and then became a teacher. My mom dedicated her life to being Lisa’s teacher.
LA: Was it difficult to have so much attention devoted to her?
EL: Well, it’s easier, I think, when you’re the younger siblings because we were born into her world. It was all I’ve ever known. I loved my childhood. But because of that I developed an independence very early on. Like, “OK, got it. Mom and Dad are busy.” I’ve read that you grew up without television. Is that right? We had TV, but we had only three channels: ABC, NBC, CBS. So I grew up with Three’s Company and The Jeffersons, but I didn’t grow up with celebrityism, which is so overwhelming today.
LA: How did you begin your acting career?
EL: I didn’t aspire to be an actress. It wasn’t a childhood dream. I didn’t know what it meant. I got my college degree in kinesiology at Texas A&M University, and I was going to get my master’s in exercise science and sports medicine. But then I won a beauty pageant, and my prize package was a trip to L.A. to compete in a modeling and talent competition. It was just going to be a little vacation—until I won everything in my category and all these managers and agents wanted to sign me. I was like, “What’s an agent?” “What’s a manager?” And literally, I just took a left turn. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 17 years now!
LA: You worked at Wendy’s in high school, taught aerobics, even learned how to change oil. What was your first L.A. job?
EL: Because I had my college degree, I was like, “I’m not going to wait tables.” I went to a temp agency that placed me at a company that then hired me as a telecommunications recruiter. It turned out I was really good at it. I was 23 and I was making over $150,000. I used the money to pay my college debt. Then I took acting classes, got my head shots, bought a car—a little Ford Festiva.
LA: Where did you live when you first arrived here?
EL: I wanted my address to say “Hollywood,” so I looked only for apartments there, and I found this crappy one-bedroom with, like, three roommates. We were all aspiring actors. The building was at Sunset and Edgemont, and it was sketchy. I did extra work for two years. I think the first show I was on was Ally McBeal. Then I was in an Eddie Murphy movie, Bowfinger, and a lot of TV shows. Extra work means long days, but the highlight was you got fed. I would steal the fruit—put a banana in my bag. My roommate would take toilet paper home. It was horrible. One time I called home crying. I had no money. My mom sent me $20 in the mail. But I was born with optimism.