×

Aspiring songwriters shouldn’t jump into the industry, unless music is something you would die without, said longtime songwriter Diane Warren. “Music and writing songs is air to me.”

Warren teased her upcoming album during Wednesday’s keynote conversation during the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Entertainment Industry Conference. While she cherishes her hit collaborations with artists like John Legend and Celine Dion, she said she wanted to create her next album as “DJ Diane.”

The Grammy and Golden Globe-winning songwriter shared that she first “jotted little poems down” when she was 10 years old. “When I was about 11, my dad got me this guitar from Tijuana, this little six string guitar, and I started making up songs on it,” she said. “When I was about 14, I just became just obsessed to where that’s all I cared about. To this day, I’m the exact same person.”

The Californian native said she broke into Hollywood’s music industry as a delivery staff of Music Express, who’d hand over her cassette tapes to her producer clients. Today, the songwriter is known for her hit ballads like “I’m Standing With You” and “Because You Loved Me.”

“I write by myself, so I’m just sitting there kind of coming up with these songs and the fact that they get heard in the world and they actually make a difference… is amazing,” she said.

Following Warren’s keynote conversation, Eva Longoria was also awarded the Commitment to California Award. The actor-turned-producer, who is also set to direct Fox’s “Flamin’ Hot,” spoke to her commitment to shift people’s cultural consciousness through media representation of women and Latinx communities.

“There’s a cultural shift that happens in people’s minds that make them comfortable and more tolerant, and we have to do more of that,” she said. “We have to start telling those stories from underserved communities, because they can have a great effect on how policy is made that affects everybody.”

Longoria said she believes progress is being made in gay marriage, immigration reform and more, but Hollywood could do much more to make a positive impact on underrepresented communities.

“We’re finally facing the right direction, but have we taken steps in the right direction? I don’t think so,” she said. “There’s a lot of diversity programs and writing fellowships that can happen in Hollywood, but unless it leads to jobs — unless there’s a mandate that you must hire people with different backgrounds and perspectives — it won’t happen.”

The keynote conversation with Warren and Longoria were moderated by Variety’s Jazz Tangcay and Elaine Low, respectively.