Longoria was joined by her co-stars Jencarlos Canela, Amaury Nolasco, Diana Maria Riva, Jadyn Douglas, Jose Moreno Brooks and Alex Meneses as well as pals Roselyn Sanchez, Judy Reyes and Mario Lopez at the event, held at her restaurant Beso in Hollywood.
Canela praised Longoria’s ability to balance her commitments as an actress, director, producer and activist, calling the multi-hyphenate “a woman of many hats.”
“She’s literally the only person I’ve seen that can distribute her mind in so many places but be in each and every place 100 percent,” Canela told Variety on the red carpet. “Usually when you’re trying to do many things at once, you kind of fail at some of them. She excels at all of them.”
As guests made their way inside the restaurant, Lopez kicked things off by introducing Longoria, who he dubbed “the craziest little Latina I know.”
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Longoria noted that the ELF has now launched internationally since expanding to Mexico and continues to focus on supporting and empowering young Latinas through educational programs and entrepreneurship.
“We help women of the Latino community because they are the pillars of our community,” Longoria told the audience. “It has been proven that if you help a woman, she leaves and helps her family. And when you improve the status of families, you improve communities. If you improve communities, you improve a nation – and that’s what we’re trying to do, one Latina at a time.”
Longoria also spoke about the importance of encouraging Latinas to be entrepreneurs and shared that the ELF has provided these young women with $1 million in micro loans.
“The fact is Latinas open up small businesses at six times the national average,” Longoria said. “They are the economy growers of this country, and often they don’t have access to capital or business training, and that’s where we come in.”
As she prepared to bring Reyes to the stage, Longoria commented on the importance of women like the “Devious Maids” actress, who serve as role models for the girls who are part of the ELF. “You can’t be what you can’t see,” she explained.
|Roselyn Sanchez and Judy Reyes flank Eva Longoria.
Katie Jones/Variety/Rex Shutterstock
Longoria then led guests in singing “Happy Birthday” to Reyes, who later discussed the educational opportunities provided for young girls through the ELF, including field trips to local technology centers. As Reyes put it, the foundation “shows Latina girls all the places that education and their dreams can take them.”
When Target EVP Laysha Ward came up to the podium, she shared the biggest surprise of the night, announcing that Target would contribute an additional $100,000 to Longoria’s foundation.
“I thought she was just going to come up and give us all gift cards, but that is much better,” Longoria teased after Ward’s announcement, adding, “Nothing makes me cry like a good donation.”
Foundation board member Henry Muñoz offered the final remarks of the evening and expressed his gratitude for the work that Longoria has done since establishing her foundation in 2012.
“I love to stand on a stage with Eva Longoria, but I particularly love to stand on a stage when she’s moving this country forward,” Muñoz said. “We’re very fortunate that a little girl from Corpus Christi, Texas would grow up to become not just a great actress and director and producer, but one of the most important voices in the United States.”
As attendees enjoyed a dessert of churros with caramel and Mexican crema, Longoria swapped her heels for flat sandals and continued to make her way around to each table to greet friends and supporters.
Guests were also treated to gifts including Mexican hot chocolate mix made by a Texan Latina entrepreneur as well as a pair of jeans from Henry and Belle.
Other guests in attendance included Zachary Levi, Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete and actress Rebecca Da Costa.