Eva Longoria Calls Out Hollywood at Cannes: ‘Female Directors Get One At-Bat and Have To Work Twice As Hard’
Eva Longoria can be criticized for many things, but never for lack of tenacity. Her commitment to elevating the voices of Latinos in the United States has survived harsh criticism from all fronts.
Yet she persists in her crusade for equality.
During her “Kering Women in Motion” talk at the Cannes Film Festival 2023, Longoria once again brought inequality in Hollywood to the forefront, this time gender inequality.
In her conversation with Dr. Stacy L. Smith, a professor and researcher at Annenberg University of Southern California, Longoria claimed to feel “the weight of my community” and of all female directors as she began production on her new film, “Flamin’ Hot.”
The film tells the story of a Frito-Lay janitor who invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The movie won an audience award at the SXSW Film Festival.
However, despite Longoria’s tenacity, women, especially Latinas in Hollywood, still don’t have “a lot of bites at the apple.”
The pressure and responsibility of breaking barriers
With her latest production, Eva Longoria is not only looking to tell the stories of Latinos in Hollywood. The actress and activist is also coping with inclement pressure.
“My movie wasn’t low budget by any means — it wasn’t $100 million, but it wasn’t $2 million,” she told Dr. Smith. “When was the last Latina-directed studio film? It was like 20 years ago. We can’t get a movie every 20 years.”
“The problem is, if this movie fails, people go, ‘Oh, Latino stories don’t work … female directors really don’t cut it.’ We don’t get a lot of at-bats. A white male can direct a $200 million film, fail and get another one. That’s the problem. I get one at-bat, one chance, work twice as hard, twice as fast, twice as cheap,” Longoria said.
In other words, for Longoria, the window of opportunity for Latinas in Hollywood opens only once
With “Flamin’ Hot,” for example, the actress went out of her way to make an inspiring story for her community. That meant having characters that resembled her own family, from her father to her uncles and aunts, Variety reported.
In fact, her film is not too far from the reality that the actress lives in as a businesswoman.
While “Flamin’ Hot” tells the story of inequalities in corporate America, the director experiences those same inequalities firsthand behind the camera.
“Twenty-eight percent of ticket buyers at the box office are Latino,” she said. “Your film will not succeed if you don’t have the Latino audience. Do you know how many Latinos showed up for ‘Crazy Rich Asians? Do you know how many Latinos bought a ticket for ‘Fast and the Furious’? We over-index at moviegoing, so why shouldn’t there be content for us if we are the ticket buyers?”
Making the case for Latinos in Hollywood
Eva Longoria’s arguments at Cannes are more than substantiated. While Latinos represent 19% of the U.S. population, they are by no means an insignificant economic force today.
According to the latest Nielsen report, Latinos in the U.S. would be the seventh largest GDP in the world, with a purchasing power of $1.9 trillion.
43.6% of U.S. Latinos’ total TV viewing in July 2022 was attributed to streaming platforms. That’s almost 9 percentage points higher than the general population.
According to the Nielsen Institute, 56% of Latinos say they’re more likely to continue watching content when it features someone from their identity group, just as Longoria intends to do.
However, despite the efforts of Latinas like her, there is still a long way to go.
“We’re still underrepresented in front of the camera, we’re still underrepresented behind the camera, we’re still not tapping into the females of the Latino community,” Longoria said. “We were at 7% in TV and film; now we’re at 5%, so the myth that Hollywood is so progressive is a myth when you look at the data.”