Eva Longoria Knows There’s Still Work to Do

Eva Longoria, perhaps best known for her role in the TV show “Desperate Housewives,” has parlayed small-screen fame into a multipronged career. She has opened a production company, created a foundation, designed a clothing line and written a cookbook.

Ms. Longoria is also a founder of a political action committee and of Poderistas, a media platform for Latinx people. And, until recently, she was on the board of Time’s Up, the anti-harassment organization formed in the wake of #MeToo.

Her latest venture is a tequila company, Casa del Sol. With so many celebrities backing that particular spirit these days, it may seem as if Ms. Longoria is late to the game.

“I’ve been approached by so many tequila brands over the past 20 years,” she said in a phone call from Los Angeles. What appealed to her this time, she said, was that it is “all about the distinctive flavor and the craft and sustainable method.”

To make the product more sustainable, the agave used to make Casa del Sol tequila is watered naturally during the rainy season and is harvested only after seven years, according to the company. For each agave that is cut, a new one is planted, an important exchange given agave shortages caused by the growing popularity of tequila. (The industry is predicted to grow about 4 percent in the next few years, according to ReportLinker, a market research company.)

On Wednesday, Ms. Longoria, 46, took a short break from editing “Flamin’ Hot,” her feature directorial debut, to discuss inclusive hiring, the abortion law recently passed in Texas — she produced the documentary “Reversing Roe” — and her political future. The edited interview appears below.

Why tequila? Why now?

Oh my God. Why not? I’m Mexican, and I was like, “Eva, you should like tequila,” and I never did. I’ve been a wine drinker my whole life, and Covid has switched me over to cocktail girl.

I’m super-proud to co-found a brand with such an authentic Mexican group and super-strong female influence. The tequila world is male dominated, and we’re not solely women, but lifting up and highlighting women who play a pivotal role in the team is the space I enjoy most.

Inclusivity in hiring is something you’ve talked about in the past. How do you ensure that projects you’re involved in have fair hiring practices?

That’s the reason I even got behind the camera and started my production company: to constantly hire people of color and women instead of unconsciously ignoring them. People think there’s this huge vendetta in the industry of not wanting to hire. That’s not the case. They’ve worked with white males for so long, that’s the talent pool they pull from.

Instead of unconsciously ignoring them, I’m consciously hiring them, really seeking them out.

What’s your favorite way to drink tequila?

Right now I’m really into a Mexican mule. I love a skinny margarita, and I love a jalapeño margarita.

You’re currently in the editing room for “Flamin’ Hot,” the first feature film that you directed. Why did this story appeal to you?

It’s the story of Richard Montañez, who was a janitor and worked his way up to executive of PepsiCo. He is known as the godfather of Hispanic marketing. He was the first person to tell Frito-Lay PepsiCo, “Hey, there’s a huge market here that you’re ignoring.”

His story is so inspirational. Rags to riches, American Dream 101. It’s all about the idea that opportunity is not distributed to people. Some people are like, “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” Well, a lot of us have a severe disadvantage and those opportunities are not open.

What was it like to direct your first feature?

Same as directing for the last 10 years, just longer. Any time I’m directing, I have an opportunity for job creation. I get to crew up the way I want. From my director of photography, Federico Cantini, to Brandon Mendez, a Latino production designer, to Elaine Montalvo, a Latina costume designer, I surrounded myself with talented, diverse people.

You produced “Reversing Roe” in 2018, and you’re a native Texan. Did you expect to see something like the Senate Bill 8, Texas’s near-complete ban on abortion?

If you’re paying attention, you could see the writing was on the wall. We have to pay attention to civic engagement because of these things. People like to blame Biden or Trump or Obama, but then you’re like, “No, no, this was your state legislature.” You have to participate in what is happening in your community, your school board, your state legislature.

I think it’s hypocritical for Republicans to say, “You can’t mandate a vaccine for me. It’s my body, my choice.” Yet when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, we cannot have a choice.

Seventy-five percent of Americans believe in women’s reproductive rights. This isn’t a highly contentious issue.

You’ve done a lot of political work, including co-founding a political action committee called the Latino Victory Fund and speaking at three Democratic National Conventions. Do you plan to run for office at some point?

No, I think no. I think the most powerful position in our democratic process is the message that you have to be a politician to be political. And that’s just not the case. The biggest work we can do is as citizens.

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