Eva Longoria Talks Learning by Example and Empowering Young Women in New Mentorship Program (Exclusive)

Jennifer Drysdale‍ & Liz Calvario‍
The actress and director does what she can to give back.

Eva Longoria is using her star power for a good cause.

ET is shining a light on the 44-year-old actress and director's work with the Eva Longoria Foundation, which aims to create a better world for young Latinas. Longoria, who has been fighting for Latinx visibility and opportunity for decades, started her foundation in 2012, to help young girls in the Latinx community build better futures for themselves and their families through education and entrepreneurship.

"It's inspiring to me [to meet with young women and kids]," Longoria told ET's Lauren Zima during a visit to A Place Called Home, where her foundation started a new mentorship program. "Sometimes they look to me for inspiration and I get all of my inspiration from them and from all the people who work at A Place Called Home, who are running the programs and doing the work...Your cuppeth runneth over with love and compassion and I think that's what we need a little more of in the world. Not only the kids that come here, but the people who really make this program and this particular organization run."

The Desperate Housewives alum, who welcomed son Santiago with husband José Antonio Bastón last June, also spoke about the importance of showing your kids the importance of giving back. 

"You don't tell your children to be philanthropic or charitable, you show them," she expressed. "And I think [Santiago's] going to learn by example and he's going to learn by the people he's surrounded with, whether that's my family or my colleagues. He'll see the difference we're making in the world and I think he's going to emulate it. Kids emulate what they see and they can't be what they can't see and that's why this mentorship program we have here at A Place Called Home is so important, because you can only say so much to a kid. You have to show them what life has in store for them and that it is for them as well." 

Meanwhile, Longoria -- who earned her master's degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge in 2013 and wrote a thesis on the value of Latinas in STEM careers -- previously told ET that she grew up in a family where higher education was encouraged. She wants young Latinas to have the same experience and opportunity. 

"I had really great role models in my sisters. They were very smart, they were all computer engineers, they all went to college, they all got their master's. All my aunts and my mom, everyone was very educated, so the word 'college' and 'university' was always used in my house," she recalled. 

"We have come to find through the foundation [that] the word 'college' has not been introduced to a household until it's too late, maybe your senior year and a counselor comes to a classroom and says, 'What about college?' and they are like, 'Oh, is that a possibility for me?'" Longoria explained. "That's what we're trying to do, is just provide this infrastructure of opportunity for all of these young girls."

The producer couldn't have been more excited to visit the Latinas affected by her foundation. "I am so proud to see these programs working and actually changing their lives," she gushed. "To hear a little girl say, 'I want to be an 'engibneer' when she means engineer, like, she is even too young to pronounce the word right, is everything to me."

During our recent interview with Longoria, she couldn't help but express how much this new project with A Place Called Home means and how she'll never stop giving back.

"This is my life's work and this is really a priority for me," she shared. "When we started the foundation, that was the mission, and the goal was to have sustainable and effective change. When you are laser-focused on the obstacles then you can really make change that can be multiplied. So whether it's our mentorship program or our entrepreneurship program, there are so many ways in which the people who use our resources take that information back into their neighborhoods, back into their families. So we didn't just help this one person, we helped a family. We help families, we help communities and when you build communities, you change nations, and that's really what the goal is."   

Get more Latinx news on ET MÁS, ETonline's new section featuring the latest celeb, film, TV, music and style news.

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