The star-studded event recognized Longoria with the Visionary Award presented by Lifetime for her groundbreaking work in the entertainment industry and continuous contributions to the Hispanic community.
This year Variety Latino recognized promising Hispanic talent who are making waves in hit TV shows like “Narcos,” Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black”, Fox’s “Scream Queens” and ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder.” The honorees included Stephanie Sigman, Karla Souza, Luis Gerardo Méndez, Maite Perroni, Lorenza Izzo, Diane Guerrero, Miguel Gómez, Diego Boneta, Raúl Castillo and Natalie Martinez.
Celebrities in attendance included Amaury Nolasco, Jencarlos Canela and the rest of the cast of Longoria’s new NBC series “Hot & Bothered,” current “Dancing With The Stars” contestants Carlos Pena Vega and Alexa Pena Vega and director Eli Roth.
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Each honoree was presented with an award by Variety Latino’s Managing Editor, Yoselín Acevedo, who kicked off the night with an opening speech. Boneta, Castillo, Perroni, Souza and Martinez were not in attendance due to scheduling conflicts.
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Following the presentation, Roselyn Sanchez took the stage to present her good friend and “boss” the coveted Visionary Award. Starting off with a handful of “did you knows” about Longoria, Sanchez highlighted the fact that she was a New York Times best-seller, a successful entrepreneur, international spokesperson, among a slew of other notable credits.
“I get asked very often, ‘Who inspires you?’ Several people come to mind, but I will be very honest, the first person in my heart who I think about is Eva Longoria,” expressed the “Devious Maids” actress. “To see her grow and become an actress, producer, director, philanthropist, activist, political figure … because as we know she loves her politics, and our next president is Eva.”
The multihyphenate then took the stage thanking Sanchez for her kind words. “My first acting job was with Roselyn, and she taught me everything. I walked on set and I was scared and she said, ‘Oh girl, this is what you have to do. You should get your makeup done first,’” Longoria laughed. “Thank you for the presentation but it just makes me feel old.”
In her acceptance speech, Longoria took pride in her heritage and all the work that Latinos have contributed, not only in the entertainment industry, but in the country as a whole. “We’re a big community and we’re a beautiful community. When you have a room full of so many influential, amazing and powerful people like today, I think I want to take advantage of that so we can all be on the same page about what we need to be doing better in our community, in our family.”
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“As Latinos in the media, we have an opportunity to shape the narrative of how this country defines us. How people view us. How people view our culture. And it’s not only an opportunity, but a responsibility to make sure others recognize all the contributions we are bringing to American pop culture and society in general,” added Longoria. “It’s our responsibility to make sure we are not what people see on the news — that being Latino is not synonymous with being illegal. That being Latino is not synonymous with being undocumented or not from here. We’re living in a time when we have all these people telling us, heck, presidential candidates, who we are, what they think we are and who they think we are.”
Emphasizing the need to create and tell Latino stories representing their culture in and behind the cameras, Longoria felt honored to represent the largest minority in the U.S.
“It’s up to the people in this room to support each other. So many beautiful, young people, all these 10 Latinos To Watch, there are about 100 to watch and all you guys who have not been recognized.”
She encouraged others to be consumers. “Watch that TV show, buy that movie ticket, vote for that candidate. Tonight we had some young talent, some veteran talent, all in shows and movies that need an audience. They need our audience because networks and studios are only going to make what works. So we have to show them that there is an underserved audience waiting to see these stories and waiting to see these beautiful brown faces in the media and television and film.”