Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with People CHICA's LatinXcellence series, spotlighting the incredible people who are changing the world through their work and activism. Today we focus on Mexican American actress, director, entrepreneur, and activist Eva Longoria, who works to amplify Latino voices in both Hollywood and Washington, D.C.

Por Lena Hansen
Septiembre 14, 2020
Getty Images

Here at People CHICA we celebrate our Latinidad 365 days a year, but during Hispanic Heritage Month, we go extra hard. Established in 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month (also known as Latino Heritage Month or Latinx Heritage Month) recognizes the generations of Latinos who have positively influenced and enhanced our society. All month long, we'll be celebrating with a series called #LatinXcellence, highlighting people who are making a difference in Latino culture today through their art, work, and activism.

Whether she is acting on screen, directing behind the camera, or using her platform to drive positive social change, Eva Longoria always makes her Latino community proud. The Mexican American actress, director, entrepreneur, and activist has been an advocate for immigrant rights, has worked to empower Latinas, and this year especially has focused on increasing Latino representation in government and motivating the community to vote.

The star will soon return to the big screen in the film 24/7 co-starring Kerry Washington, and will also direct the movie Flamin' Hot, which highlights the true story of a Latino janitor who invented Flamin' Hot Cheetos. But she's not just working to gain more Latino representation in Hollywood — she also motivates Latinos to make their votes count as the co-founder of Latino Victory.

"Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, but we're the most underrepresented in government," she tells People CHICA. "People keep talking about our demography, but our demography is not our destiny. People assume we are this big sleeping giant, but we won't be if we don't exercise our right to vote. If we don't have a seat at the table and in government, we're never going to make the changes needed in our community."

Earlier this month, Longoria, America Ferrera, and other activists launched She Se Puede, a digital community for Latinas. "We felt like we have a collective self-esteem issue, so we want to create a culture of confidence and empowerment, but that doesn't happen right away. We have to create a cultural shift for Latinas and really provide that space for all of us to stand up and change our country, and bring our friends and families and our hermanas along with us," she says. "That's the goal of She Se Puede, joining this online community that is building up this army of Latinas to make sure we are investing in ourselves. It's not just about your vote matters — it's about our lives matter."

The mom and designer — who has her own fashion line available at HSN — is also helping Latinas unlock their full potential through the Eva Longoria Foundation, whose mission is to help Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship.

"The first step is telling Latinas they have the power. The second step is making sure they believe they have that power. They have to truly believe, 'I am the difference in my family, I'm the difference in my community, I'm the difference in the voting booths,'" she says. "Yes, you! Accept it, embrace it. Once they know they have the power, once they believe in that power, then they can start using that power, sharing that power, and leveraging that power."