How doing more with your time fosters mindfulness and success.
Laser focus and a little bit of luck landed Eva Longoria in the Hollywood spotlight. While others may have been swayed by a fast landing into stardom, Longoria wasn’t. She had her head firmly on her shoulders and stayed true to who she was.
When she made it big as a Hollywood star, she arrived as a confident, driven woman who was passionate about education, excellence in work, and helping empower women and minorities to have a place at the table.
Jay Shetty recently sat down with the Desperate Housewives star and director of hit TV show Grand Hotel. He dove right into asking her about the unconventional journey that brought her to where she is today: a mother, an activist and an actor.
The Laughs Started Early
Eva Longoria is the first to admit her comedic talent initially developed as a coping mechanism. There was a time in her young life where Longoria was teased by family members for looking different from the rest of the family. It helped her develop thick skin and a sense of humor.
“It originally started out as a defense mechanism,” said Longoria. “Like, I'm going to criticize myself before you do. And then laughter was so healing, and to hear people laugh was healing to my heart. I made a career of it.’”
Jay Shetty applauds Longoria’s ability to turn laughter into healing.
“It's so important to transition defense mechanisms into healing,” said Shetty. “The defense mechanism can just become this way of processing in the moment, but then you walk home with all of that baggage and it feels really heavy.”
Let’s Get Physical
Though she knew early on that she possessed comedic talent, Longoria had her career sights set elsewhere.
“I was obsessed with exercise science and physiology and the body and fitness,” said Longoria to Jay Shetty. “I wanted to be a sports trainer. I wanted to work for a team like the Dallas Cowboys.”
This plan was going well until her senior year of college. Times were hard and money was tight. Throwing caution to the wind, Longoria entered a scholarship pageant with the hope of placing fifth and winning enough money to pay for her books.
No one was more surprised than her when she won.
Longoria cashed in on part of her pageant prize and made her way to Los Angeles. Her performance in a talent competition caught the eye of talent scouts, and she couldn’t deny the pull of the city. She was a California girl now.
A Headhunting Soap Opera Star and Other Juggling Acts
Life in Los Angeles is expensive, and making it big takes time. Eva Longoria found herself working in a job placement agency as a headhunter, and it paid off.
Being a headhunter paid off her student loans and all her living expenses. Her acting career began when she landed a part on The Young and The Restless. Headhunting paid her bills, but acting built her name.
“You'd had time to construct your identity as to who you truly were,” said Jay Shetty. “Then when people started to make your identity singular, you were able to actually look at them and say, ‘No, actually I already know who I am and this is just a part of it.’”
How did she manage to balance everything she had on her plate? Time management.
“What we don't realize is that we waste more time in the day than you realize,” she told Jay Shetty. Case in point: Longoria learned French and Spanish between takes on the set of Desperate Housewives.
Her next hurdle was gaining her Master’s degree. Balancing classes and work in TV wasn’t easy, but she had a good role model. Her mother juggled kids, work, and life with grace, paving the way for Longoria to do the same.
“You have to feel it and mean it when you say it if you're going to believe it,” said Jay Shetty, congratulating her on pursuing her goals with single-minded focus.
Balanced and Fulfilled
Jay Shetty and the rest of the world wasn’t surprised when Eva Longoria tackled motherhood with tenacity and grace. Her son Santiago has brought so much joy and fulfillment to her and her husband.
Not surprisingly, Longoria has balanced a baby and her new role of director well. Though she admits it wasn’t easy birthing both son and a hit TV show, Grand Hotel, it has been cathartic and transformative. Through both, Eva reflects that she has found even deeper meaning and passion for her work.
“My mother was always there while running her own business too when I was growing up,” said Jay Shetty, agreeing that mothers are a special breed. “She was always taking care of me and my sister and at every sporting activity or art activity. I don’t know how, but she did it.”
Charity is Part of Who She Is
“Giving back, volunteering and community, is ingrained in the DNA of who I am,” said Longoria. “I use my fame as a platform to shine a light and give a voice to giving back. It’s really just a natural evolution because I was doing it anyway.”
She acknowledges that just being kind or showing compassion doesn’t go far if there’s no follow through. She focused her Master’s thesis around her passion for giving back, paving the way for more Latinas to dive into STEM fields and bring their expertise to the table.
“My thesis was specifically on Latinas in STEM fields and how diversity creates innovation for anything,” Longoria told Jay Shetty. “Solutions come from people's experiences. We need more experiences to innovate and solve world problems.”
“We all need to become so much more mindful and aware that our actions matter, and the way we leave the world is going to matter for so many other generations,” agreed Jay Shetty.
Blazing A New Hollywood Trail
Longoria acknowledges that Hollywood has long been a white-male-dominated space, and she is on a mission to bring more diversity to the forefront. As a producer and director, she has the ability to do just that. When hiring staff for Grand Hotel, Longoria strategically filled the roles with talented women.
“When I was finally in a position of power to hire, as executive producer, it was our job to staff up the director slot,” Longoria said to Jay Shetty. “We had 13 open slots, and we primarily hired women first. Once we ran out of that talent pool, we filled the rest of the spots with talented people of color.”
Longoria has a heightened awareness that the stories coming out of Hollywood largely paint Latinos in a negative light. She firmly believes raising Latino morale, and changing society’s perception of Latinos begins with telling a different story – the full story.
Longoria is on a mission to change the Latino experience in Hollywood. While her Hollywood stardom would make it easy to do all the talking, Longoria knows when to step aside and just focus on empowering others.
“What I do is teach and inspire Latinos to speak up for themselves,” Longoria told Jay Shetty. “The way we can do that in Hollywood is by hiring them. That way they get to tell their stories and are given permission to be great. We all need that.”
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Eva Longoria now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out his website at jayshetty.me.