Actress and entrepreneur Eva Longoria became a household name after appearing in ABC’s Desperate Housewives. Since then, she’s launched her own charitable foundation, a production company, and restaurant. She admits that because she wanted to learn more about running a successful venture—as a woman and a Latina—she was willing to accept guidance.
She’s established a presence in Hollywood as an actor and creator, but there’s one philosophy she adopted that’s enabled her to make strides in the industry.
Longoria received advice on how to tip the scales
Representation is a major issue in the entertainment sector for marginalized groups like women and people of color, and Longoria is no stranger to championing for change in those areas. In October, she presented at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit and spoke about diversity in Hollywood and what she’s doing to push through barriers.
Longoria told InStyle that there was one key piece of advice given to her by friend/business associate Brian Tanen, who also serves as a showrunner for her show, Grand Hotel.
“I was practice pitching with him, this movie, and he said, ‘You gotta put your white male privilege pants on and act like you have this job, and tell them why they’re hiring you and how you’re going to do it.
As opposed to asking for permission of like, ‘well I’d like to do it this way. What are you guys thinking? I think you should do it this way.’ And that like changed things. That blew my mind. And I got the job, because I went in there and I said, ‘You’re hiring me. Here’s my idea. This is the way I’m going to shoot it. This is what’s going to happen. And they go, ‘Oh.’ They don’t expect that from a woman, especially from a woman of color, and that was a huge piece of advice that I carry with me in every room that I enter. Put your white male privilege pants on.”
By taking that approach, it’s enabled her to confidently advocate for her projects and those of others.
Longoria implores women in power to help
During the summit, the actress also talked about what inspired her to want to work behind the scenes to bring cultural diversity to Hollywood. As a child, she struggled with wanting to fit in and didn’t understand the root of it. It was her mother who reminded her to always be proud of her culture and where she came from.
That perspective shaped her outlook on the impact of representation and sharing stories from the Latino diaspora. Now that she is in a position to create change behind the Hollywood scenes, she asks those in a position like her to increase visibility and diversity for other women seeking to break into the business.
“We have the power in Hollywood to do something about this. I’m asking you to help me change the way people see my community, people of color, my brothers and sisters, me, how people are going to see my son. Because I was that little girl on the bus where people had to whisper that I’m Mexican like it was something horrible.”
Aligning her work with a mission is important
Longoria continuously advocates for women and underrepresented communities and seeks to tackle projects that align with her values. She told NBC News that her production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, is choosy about what films they work on. But Oprah also dropped wisdom on how to find what works well:
“She said produce with purpose. Even if the purpose is to entertain or make you laugh, that’s a purpose. But is there a deeper meaning to what you’re doing?…We get so many submissions and I’ll read something and I go: right and then what? And then what happens? How does this change a community or our perception of a character?”
Ultimately, she’d like to see the system change and become less biased toward women and people of color. With her platform in Hollywood and the Eva Longoria Foundation, she is seeking to change it from within.