In Los Angeles magazine’s September issue, editor at large Amy Wallace talks candidly with Eva Longoria, actress, activist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and now our 2014 Woman of the Year. In the comprehensive interview Longoria discusses how she reconciles feminism and femininity, what she thinks about U.S. immigration policy, and why proving her intelligence has been a struggle. As Wallace writes, the star has been “shrewd about using her onscreen success as an engine for change;” Not only did the 39-year-old cofound Eva’s Heroes, an organization that aids individuals with special needs, but she has also produced two documentaries that expose the ill-treatment of migrant farm workers.
Below, a few excerpts from the conversation:
Longoria on the complexities of modern womanhood:
“I’m super independent, I’m a feminist, I’m an activist, and I’m opinionated. At the same time, when I’m in a relationship, I love to feel like the woman. That’s where it gets complicated. Because it’s hard to let go of the reins in your personal life when you control them all day long.”
Longoria on how she’s focused her philanthropic efforts:
“In America there are as many non-profits for saving puppies, dogs, cats, and fish as for humans or children. I don’t want PETA to jump all over me, but I just think, ‘You know what? I’m going to dedicate my efforts to human beings.’”
Longoria on immigrant labor:
“When I tell people ‘I buy organic because that means a farmworker wasn’t sprayed with pesticides,’ so many of them say, ‘I never thought of that.’ You never thought of that? Everybody is so aware of what they’re putting into their bodies—gluten free, soy free, almond milk—but they’re so unaware where that food comes from. The people who feed the most well-fed nation in the world are going to bed hungry. What does that say about us as a nation?”
Longoria on celebrities getting bashed for expressing their political opinions:
“That makes me crazy because one of the hardest things in my life has been proving that I was smart. And yet the big misconception, whether it’s in philanthropy or political activism, is that you have to be rich and famous to make a difference… I think people are misled to believe only politicians can be political. It’s not the case. You can be political. Anybody can.”
For more from the September issue of Los Angeles magazine, pick up a copy (on newsstands August 28) or subscribe.