Interview: Eva Longoria

Eva’s fortunes would change dramatically the very next year, when she was signed to play wanton adulteress Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives. The show turned out to be a runaway hit, turning Longoria into an overnight sensation who currently commands a cool quarter million dollars per episode. Longoria is apparently earning every penny of her salary, having been conked unconscious on the set for four minutes by a pole which fell on her head.

Born on March 15, 1975, Eva Jacqueline Longoria was the youngest of four sisters raised by her parents on a ranch in Corpus Christi, Texas. She earned a BS in Kinesiology at Texas A&M, before being spotted by a talent scout who brought her to Hollywood. The 5’2� Latina settled for bit parts on such soap operas as General Hospital, The Young and the Restless and Beverly Hills 90210 till she landed a recurring role on the short-lived revival of Dragnet in 2003. Eva’s fortunes would change dramatically the very next year, when she was signed to play wanton adulteress Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives.

The show turned out to be a runaway hit, turning Longoria into an overnight sensation who currently commands a cool quarter million dollars per episode. Longoria is apparently earning every penny of her salary, having been conked unconscious on the set for four minutes by a pole which fell on her head. Most folks don’t know that Eva also headlines a stand-up variety show at The Comedy Store in L.A. and at other clubs around the country called Hot Tamales Live, accompanied by a bevy of Latin American comedienne’s including Kiki Melendez and Tess. Among her many celebrity endorsements are ones with Hanes, New York & Company, plus a $2.36 million deal with L’Oreal and others.

Longoria was Named #1 on Maxim Magazine’s Hot 100 List of 2005, and a steamy shot of her in a bikini graced the cover of its 100th issue. Furthermore, the magazine commissioned an artist to paint a super-sized, 75’ by 100’ reproduction of the picture in the desert where it is visible from outer space via satellite.

As for her personal life, since divorcing her husband Tyler Christopher last year, the 31 year-old Mexican-American man-eater’s dating pool has included boy band ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez, and actor boy toys Hayden Christensen, Butch Klein, Kiefer Sutherland, and Sean Faris. Lately, however, she has been romantically-linked to Tony Parker, the 23 year-old point guard of the San Antonio Suns. She even admits to having the flying Frenchman’s initials tattooed in an intimate area of her body.

Here, Eva talks about her new movie, The Sentinel, a political potboiler about a traitor in the ranks of the Secret Service where she plays an Agent opposite Kiefer Sutherland, and Academy Award-winners Michael Douglas and Kim Basinger.

BSN: How does it feel knowing you can be seen in a skimpy bikini from outer space?
EL: [Laughs] “I’m really nervous, because if an alien is passing by and happens to see my picture, he’s going to come looking for me. But it was fun. I was really honored. Maxim was celebrating its 100th issue, and they teamed up with Google Earth and Las Vegas to paint my picture on a football field. So, technically, I have the biggest ass in the world.

BSN: Have you flown over it leaving Las Vegas?
EL: No, I wonder if I could see it if I was flying to Vegas. I gotta check that out next time I go there.

BSN: You’ve been added to the list of landmarks you can see from the air, like The Great Wall of China.
EL: Yes, I’m the Eighth Wonder of the World.

BSN: How did you like the change of pace of making and action flick like The Sentinel?
EL: Fun! Fun! Well, first of all, just even going from a set full of estrogen to one full of testosterone was exciting to me. I found it exhilarating, because I don’t get to do that every day. And that was the whole point of picking a movie. I wanted to do something completely opposite of Gabrielle and Desperate Housewives. And I found it in Jill Marin.

BSN: Was it a hard character for you to play?
EL: No, actually, she’s a lot closer to who I am as a person. I’m a tomboy. I love shooting guns and running around. To be able to do that in the movie was just like vacation to me, instead of getting dressed up or putting on lingerie.

BSN: What does it feel like to go in a couple of years from an aspiring actress to a celebrity whose every date is being monitored by the tabloids?
EL: I can’t articulate it. That’s funny, because it’s the most asked question I get. How does it feel? I don’t know. Overwhelming would be a good word, but it doesn’t accurately describe everything that’s happened in the past two and a half years. It’s just been a roller coaster of ups. It’s like I can’t keep up with all the good news.

BSN: So, there’s nothing you’d like to undo?
EL: No, I don’t regret anything I do, ever, whether articles I’ve done or things I’ve said. And as far as what’s happened in the past, I wouldn’t take anything back. People think I’m an overnight success with Desperate Housewives, but I was working for eight years. And they ask if there’s a movie I wish I hadn’t done. There isn’t, because everything that I’ve done in the past has built my character. All the rejections have been a bonus for me. Eva Mendez and I met at the audition for Spanglish. And neither of us got it, obviously. I ran into her a year or two later, and she said, “Isn’t it funny, if I had gotten Spanglish, I couldn’t have done Hitch.� And if I had done Spanglish, I wouldn’t have done Desperate Housewives. I always think everything’s for a reason, everything is meant to be. So, I’m very grateful, and always reflecting on that.

BSN: Were you stereotyped early in your career and mostly offered roles like the one you auditioned for in Spanglish where you would’ve played a Mexican maid?
EL: I have been blessed that I wasn’t pigeonholed into that. Those roles didn’t come to me because I didn’t have an accent. They’d ask, “Couldn’t you do it a little more feisty, fiery, Latin.� I’d respond with, “I’m sorry, were you getting Jewish fire? Because I am Latin.� Even though I am very tied to and close to my heritage, I learned Spanish in college, I didn’t grow up with it. Growing up in South Texas is different from Miami or L.A. where it is a necessity to speak Spanish.

BSN: Did you know Desperate Housewives was going to be a big hit?
EL: We were just excited to get picked up for a second year after the first two episodes aired. That was kind of unheard of. So, we felt, “Wow, we’re going to have jobs for a while.� But we didn’t realize that it was going to be a phenomenon or a worldwide hit. We were all surprised by the obsession with the show and the enormity that it became.

BSN: You’ve certainly come a long way financially from your days as a struggling actress on soap operas.
EL: I was making almost minimum wage on The Young and the Restless. But it was my first job, so I accepted my first quote. I had a great time on it, and it obviously led me to better things.

BSN: Do you feel a responsibility as a Latino-American to maintain any connections to the community?
EL: Absolutely! I see myself as a role model.

BSN: So, what programs are you involved with?
EL: I work a lot with NCLR which is the largest Latino civil rights organization in the country. And I also work a lot with the UFW, the United Farm Workers. So, I’ve been in the field, and experienced a day in the life with the people. I’m presently producing a documentary on the labor workers.

BSN: Where do you find time for that when you’re on an award-winning TV show?
EL: Far more important than any awards for me as a Latino in entertainment is the mission of the NCLR. The reason I demanded to produce is because we’re in this big debate about the future of our immigration laws, and it is colored by the often negative media portrayals of Latinos on television. So, if I could possibly help effect any changes because of a role that I’m playing, then I’m going to do it.

BSN: Why are you concerned about the issue of Latino immigration?
EL: Because history repeats itself. This happened in the 1940s, after The Great depression, when they did a huge deportation of not only Mexicans, but many Mexican-Americans who were full-fledged citizens. I think our administration can’t afford to let this to end badly again. Everybody has a right to be treated as a human being. Did you know that there are slavery lawsuits brought right now in Florida against some orange growers by MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Educational Fund?

BSN: No, I didn’t.
EL: Well, we’re fighting, and suing and helping because they’re being treated like slaves. It’s insane that it’s 2006 and that’s happening, and that we have to bring a lawsuit to stop it.

BSN: Who has inspired this commitment in you?
EL: I don’t know. It’s just my personality. It could divine intervention. I am like no one in my family. I really think I was adopted and they won’t tell me. Everyone’s a pessimist. I’m a huge optimist. It might spawn from the fact that I grew up with a lot of women around me. My mom had nine sisters. I have three sisters. My sister just had two girls. There’s no men in my family. So, we pretty much ruled the house, and that’s all I’ve ever known.

BSN: When Tony becomes a free agent, will he try to sign with the Lakers to be with you in L.A?
EL: Not the Lakers. He would consider the Clippers, but never the Lakers.

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