TAORMINA, Sicily – Eva Longoria was honored Tuesday with a humanitarian award by the Taormina Film Festival in Italy where the multihyphenate champion of many causes talked about how her stardom attained playing Gabriela Solis on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” boosted her philanthropic bent.
“If it wasn’t for ‘Desperate Housewives,’ I wouldn’t be able to have the reach that I have to talk to people in the world,” the actress, director, producer and philanthropist told the crowd during an onstage conversation at the fest in a Sicilian seaside resort.
Longoria, looking radiant in a black leather cocktail dress and stiletto heels, was honored for her work with the Eva Longoria Foundation, which helps Latinas build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship.
Among the foundation’s many activities in these fields is a project that has made micro-loans worth more than $1 million available to Latina entrepreneurs in Texas where, in 2013, it teamed up with Howard Buffett, Warren Buffett’s son.
As for her entertainment career, Longoria said season two of ABC’s “Devious Maids,” which she executive produced and directed the first episode of, has just wrapped. Also completed is the immigration and human trafficking film “Frontera,” set on the Mexican border, in which she stars alongside Michael Pena and Ed Harris. “Frontera,” directed by Michael Berry, is being released stateside by Magnolia in September.
Longoria, who is of Mexican descent, told the fawning Italian crowd that when she first went to Hollywood, everybody thought she was Italian.
“When they asked me: Are you Italian? I would always say yes because I wanted the role,” she said.
She also noted that one of the things Italians and Mexicans have in common is that they both get typecast negatively by Hollywood.
Asked by a Sicilian in the audience why she thought Italians in Hollywood movies often tend to be mobsters, Longoria said: “We have the same problem in Mexico. We are always the drug lords, the drug cartel.”
Taormina, which is is among Europe’s oldest fests, is increasingly dedicating itself to charitable causes, under the management of Italian public relations princess Tiziana Rocca.
On Sunday the fest honored World Food Program executive director Ertharin Cousin and held a WFP charity gala attended by Italian celebs and Vogue Italy director Franca Sozzani.
The 60th edition of Taormina ends June 21.