You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Eva Longoria Praises Sister with Special Needs, Reflects on Directing Future

Eva Longoria says she wouldn’t be the humanitarian she is today without some inspiration from her oldest sister Liza, who was born with an intellectual disability. 

“That’s really where all of my philanthropy and charity work comes from is living a life with Liza and somebody like Liza,” Longoria said at the HollyRod Foundation’s 21st annual DesignCare Gala. “I’m always humbled by everything she shows me and teaches me, especially now that I have a child.”

Longoria was honored Saturday night with the “HollyRod Humanitarian Award,” which was presented by the HollyRod Foundation, an organization founded by Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete in support of those affected by autism and Parkinson’s disease. 

The couple created the foundation in 1999 after Holly Robinson Peet’s father died following a struggle with Parkinson’s. Additionally, their son RJ was diagnosed with autism and given “a never list,” which dictated a number of tasks he would never be able to do.

Upon accepting her honor, Longoria related her own experience growing up alongside her sister’s intellectual disability. “She too was on that never list,”  Longoria said. “She would never talk. She would never have an emotion towards anybody. Today she has a job; she is happy.” 

Longoria also shared an inspirational story about her sister, detailing an incident in which somebody stole her jacket while she was in high school.

“I remember being so mad. I wanted to go to the school and kick somebody’s ass. I’m going to go find this person,” she said.” I went to Liza and asked, ‘Who stole your jacket?’ And she said, ‘Somebody who must have been cold.’ And she taught me compassion. She never saw or never sees the evil in anybody. She just thinks somebody needed it more than I. And that’s what tonight is about. There are families and children that need this more than us.”

On the carpet, Longoria said she also draws from her personal life while working as a director. Previously, She helmed several episodes of television for “Black-ish” and “Grand Hotel,” but will chart new territory with her first two narrative features that are currently in development. “These two particular projects really have my stamp on them,” she told Variety. “They’re right in my tone of what I stand for.”

In one of the projects, Longoria said she will direct and star alongside Kerry Washington in a “female comedy” for her first feature.  She also revealed her yet to be announced second feature, calling it “a story about my community, the Latino community.”

“Both are really extensions of worlds I know,” she continued. “As a director I’m able to navigate those worlds in a very specific way. And I have a superpower for both.”

The evening drew a star studded crowd, including Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Magic Johnson and Sugar Ray Leonard. Kodi Lee, a blind and autistic contestant on “America’s Got Talent,” was also honored and performed  several songs, including an impromptu rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious.” 

Rodney Peete remembers when he first saw the viral video of Lee on the competition show. He said to Variety, “When we saw that video we broke down… Everybody cried. I did everything I could to try to find him.”

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

  • Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron.

    Charlize Theron Could Win Second Oscar for Playing Megyn Kelly in 'Bombshell'

    Charlize Theron walked on stage before a screening of “Bombshell” at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center on Sunday night and announced to the crowd, “I’m about to s— myself.” The Oscar winner had good reason to be nervous. The screening of the Jay Roach-directed drama about the fall of Fox News boss Roger Ailes was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content