Eva Longoria is Raising Her Son to be Bilingual as She Fights Injustice in Latino Community
Equality. Feminism. Diversity. If anyone can slip these words into a conversation, it’s Eva Longoria. Speaking her mind about the social issues she cares most about is central to who she is as a person. So it’s especially endearing to hear her switch to baby talk at the sight of her 1-year-old son, Santiago Enrique, during our phone conversation. “He’s just a love bug,” she says from Los Angeles, on their way to the pediatrician’s office just days ahead of jet-setting off to France for the Cannes Film Festival.
The new mom is certainly savoring every single moment with her sweet Santi. Scroll through her Insta feed and you’ll come across photo after photo of the 44-year-old gazing adoringly at the little boy. “He was meant to be with me at this stage in my life,” Longoria says. “I’m more patient, and I don’t work as much—even though it doesn’t seem that way!” she adds, knowing full well that her interpretation of slowing down is probably pretty different from most people’s.
Since Longoria and her husband, Mexican media mogul José “Pepe” Bastón, welcomed Santi last June, she produced the ABC television series Grand Hotel. She also filmed the much-anticipated live-action movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold (out August 9), for which she traveled to Queensland, Australia, to play the mom of iconic character Dora the Explorer. Next up, she’s coproducing and making her feature film directorial debut in the big-screen comedy 24-7, starring opposite fellow mom, actress, and bestie Kerry Washington.
As if that wasn’t enough, she has also doubled down on her philanthropic efforts in behalf of women and children. In March, she visited a migrant shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, with America Ferrara, Roselyn Sánchez, Gina Rodríguez, and other actors to witness firsthand the treatment of refugee families and to talk with immigration lawyers. Although he didn’t go into the shelter, Santi was with her.
This willingness to help others is something that Longoria, the youngest of four sisters, learned from her own family. Her mother became a special-education teacher to help Longoria’s oldest sister, Liza, who was born with developmental disabilities. The importance of giving back was ingrained in her early on. And if she’s going to empower her son to one day create change, he needs to learn by example, says Longoria, whose roots run nine generations deep in Texas. “My family never crossed a border; the border crossed us,” she famously said at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, referring to a time when The Lone Star State was part of Mexico.
Longoria’s commitment to fighting injustice against the Latino community has been educational, to say the least. In 2013, she earned her master’s degree in Chicano studies to better understand the immigration issue. And a few years prior to that, she had learned to speak Spanish so she could communicate with the people she serves with her philanthropy. “I’ve always been involved in my culture—through food, music, religion, traditions, and family—but I wasn’t connected to the language, which is such a big part of it,” says Longoria, who has been using her platform for good ever since she rose to fame on TV’s Desperate Housewives 15 years ago.
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It’s no wonder Longoria is raising Santi to be completely bilingual. In fact, he is on the road to becoming a global citizen, since he has already visited four continents. Toting him around the world, from Paris to Dubai, is Longoria’s way of balancing work and family. It helped her get back on-set six weeks after giving birth. Not that it was easy. “Breastfeeding while working was hard, just for the timing of the pumping and the feedings and the sleeping and the not sleeping,” Longoria admits. “You do it and get it done.”
Being more efficient with her time is just part of being a mom. “I don’t accept a project unless I can give it 100 percent,” she says. That’s why tying her activism to her career allows her to attach a bigger purpose to everything she does. As one of the founders of the Time’s Up movement, which is calling for gender parity in Hollywood, she’s using her status as a producer to open doors for more women in front of and behind the camera. “Women are our biggest resource,” says Longoria, who is making sure to raise Santi to embrace that fully.
Eva’s Mom Life
- Favorite nursery rhyme: “‘Los Pollitos Dicen,’ but his No. 1 album is Baby Shark.”
- Best advice I received as a mom: “Kerry Washington once told me, ‘Follow your own motherly instincts.’”
- I stay grounded by: “Praying a lot. We want to make sure that Santi understands there’s a higher power and a higher being who makes everything possible.” Advantage of coming from a big Latino family: “My baby is so used to going with everybody. He’ll go into anyone’s arms!”
- How I’m raising a good eater: “We let him eat off our plate and are exposing his palate to different flavors—it’s definitely plant-based right now.”
- Mom squad: “America Ferrera and I had our babies at the same time, so we’re always talking to each other about the different stages.”