It shouldn’t be a surprise to find hope, energy and positivity emerging from every pore on Eva Longoria’s flawless complexion. She’s coming of age, as a woman over 40, an entertainer, a role model, and a parent.
The 44-year-old, who gave birth to baby Santiago Enrique Bastón just over a year ago, has gone about her actress, producer, director, model, businesswoman and activist duties with unswerving optimism, stopping along the way only to pander to the rather staid formalities of press conferences, junkets and media engagements, for movies including Desperate Housewives, The Sentinel and Overboard, charitable projects and ambassadorial roles.
READ MORE CELEBRITY ARTICLES: Elle Macpherson in conversation – wholesomely super!
Although late to motherhood, relatively speaking, the American has forever been a role model for “strong, smart and sexy women everywhere”. Her ‘previous’ as a Texas cheerleader and beauty queen turned Master’s degree graduate is evidence enough that through the challenges, trials and preconceptions, there is always a future, always another opportunity to reinvent.
“I think that’s so important,” she says. “We live in a world now where it is almost too easy to categorise people because of decisions they’ve made or things they have done. It’s ridiculous that we can leave someone to fester over their actions from 10 or 20 years ago, when the ability to reinvent or to change direction has never been better presented.
“We are evolving, changing and becoming new people almost every day, and to empower people in the belief that they aren’t who they were yesterday, and nor will they be the same person tomorrow, I think is so beautiful.
“I’ve always had a lot of energy and ambition,” Longoria says. “I like making the most of my time and that’s one reason I wanted to do a master’s degree – to push myself to the next level. I also wanted to get involved in producing and directing my own series and now I’m doing that. I feel like I’m only just starting to explore all the things I want to do, and I say that even after parenthood!”
Certainly, you would imagine young Santiago – born to Longoria and husband Jose Antonio Bastón, who works as President of Televisa, the largest media conglomerate in Latin America – will grow up to have all the ambition, optimism and craft to be a success; but the actress says even a positive spirit takes time and effort to perfect.
“I can’t say it’s something I have that is as simple as turning on a switch,” she admits. “Whether I’m acting or modelling or even doing menial tasks for my own production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, I want to start the project with a bundle of enthusiasm and drive, and sometimes I do admit it just doesn’t feel like it is there.
“I find in those situations I need to remove myself from everything, clear my mind, and then try to reengage with subtle prompts, with ideas in my head, even with visual stimuluses. If I can get those moving then the belief and the energy soon follows.”
Belief certainly fuelled Longoria’s ambition to learn. That Master’s followed her bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree she gained from Texas A&M University.
“At the heart of my choice to do that was actually the political situation in the country. Immigration is such a critical issue in American politics and as someone who grew up in a Mexican-American family it’s particularly important to me.
“I did my thesis on education in the Latino community but I also wanted to learn about the history of Mexican immigration into the U.S. I’m involved in politics and I felt it only right to try to understand as much as I could about how the situation has evolved, and to know what kind of policies we should develop to deal with the issue.
“I loved getting to spend time with people in that kind of learning environment who couldn’t care less about the film or TV business. Hollywood can be a very insular world and sometimes you can lose sight of real life.”
What Longoria has never lost sight of – and this is largely down to growing up in a competitive, entertaining and lively house – is comedy as a tool that, ultimately, has helped her through every day.
“I developed a sense of humour as a kind of defence mechanism while I was a skinny and nerdy teenager.
“Humour has been a strong part of my personality and that kind of thing helped me deal with all the fame that came my way with Desperate Housewives. I was able to deal with the attention and take a more light-hearted way of looking at it so that I never lost my bearings.
Now the actress is in the frame of mind where she wants to pass on those qualities. “To have a child and to be able to care for him feels like the greatest gift,” she says, “and I hope I am a reasonably good role model for other mums out there who are perhaps doing what they do in later years.
“I think back even to when I was a teenager and my actions were all centred around giving back – I even went to university so that I could one day become a physical therapist and trainer, so the ability to learn and to pass down knowledge is something that is so underrated. Let’s get out there and celebrate the world together, because whatever age we are, we all still have that in us.”