Executive editor Mimi Swartz discusses her profile of Eva Longoria.
texasmonthly.com: When did you first get the idea to do a story on Eva Longoria?
Mimi Swartz: They called us, offering Eva as a profile—her publicist called.
texasmonthly.com: You visited Eva on so many different occasions and in so many different circumstances. Was is difficult to maintain the motivation to continue to pursue a story about her?
MS: Yes, just because the story was rescheduled at their request so many times. People don’t realize it, but writing about celebrities is really hard work—they know what they want to say, they know how they want to be seen, and it’s very hard to make a story fresh when faced with those circumstances.
texasmonthly.com: What was one key element that drew you into the complex saga of Eva Longoria?
MS: Probably my own past—I grew up in South Texas, so I understand how much times have changed and how they haven’t for young Hispanic women. She’s to be admired for her ambition.
texasmonthly.com: What was your favorite interaction with Eva?
MS: When she said “You think you know me” after I had told her about all the personal details in the zillions of stories written about her. It was pretty funny.
texasmonthly.com: How is Eva’s stardom different from other big-name Hollywood celebrities?
MS: She’s more mature—she’s not a Lindsay type—and she’s also more circumspect. I think on some level she knows she’s not Meryl Streep, so she’s grabbing for all the gusto she can right this minute. She’s a smart business woman.
texasmonthly.com: In the story, you rhetorically ask the reader both why and how Eva Longoria became elevated to such a high-profile in the public eye. As you finished the story, did you find you discovered the answer?
MS: Yes, and I hope the reader does too.
texasmonthly.com: Explain a little more about the relationship between Eva and her publicist, Liza Anderson.
MS: They are old friends—Liza handles all the publicity for Eva, which now is a little like directing traffic in the Holland Tunnel.
texasmonthly.com: What do you find most remarkable about Eva?
MS: She’s very smart and very protective of herself.
texasmonthly.com: You mention several times in your story Eva’s battle to overcome racism in the film and television industries in America. Do you feel that Eva is paving the way for Latino culture in Hollywood?
MS: Absolutely. The other person who has done a lot is Salma Hayek, the creator of Ugly Betty, among other things.
texasmonthly.com: You mention that Eva is a “stereotype buster and a folk heroine.” In what ways is this true?
MS: Well, I don’t think she is like her character, except that they both like to dress up. Eva worked for Democratic candidates and the rights of Latinos in terms of immigration and voter registration—she’s doing great volunteer work to give back. And, again, her intelligence helps to make people see she isn’t just a centerfold, though she’s been very active in that regard too. So now Latina women can be objects of desire and objectified just like everyone else.
texasmonthly.com: How much do you feel Eva’s childhood shaped the way she is today?
MS: I think a lot. I think growing up with a sister who was developmentally disabled did make her less intimidated by obstacles, especially when she saw how much her mom could pack into a day.
texasmonthly.com: How crucial has Eva’s role as Gabrielle on Desperate Housewives been to both her career and to her personally?
MS: It’s been crucial. It made her a star.
texasmonthly.com: How did your perception of Eva change throughout the course of your reporting?
MS: I liked her, and that didn’t change much. I’m not sure I covet much about her world, though. Except maybe Tony Parker.