Eva Longoria On Sisterhood: “Without Mentors The System Doesn’t Work”

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It sounds like a cliche, but sisterhood is nothing to laugh at. In fact, having a mentor in our lives can be the difference between success and failure. We live in a world where parents, teachers and families aren’t always the best guides to turn to, but thankfully there are community resources we can tap into, and once we become part of a network we can find adequate support and become a source of guidance for others.

At the recent Web Summit held in Dublin, Ireland, actress and philanthopist Eva Longoria was interviewed on stage by European Vanity Fair editor Jemima Khan. The Web Summit was held from Nov 4-6 and it is referred to as “the best tech conference on the planet”. Attendees include a range of the worlds greatest minds in tech and business including Fortune 500 companies as well as tech start-ups.

A range of well-known names gathered at the event, such as Bono, Eva, model Lily Cole, ‘The Walking Dead’ badass producer Gale Anne Hurd, and many more. But a quick look through the list of luminary guests and speakers shows an imbalanced number of men to women, which Eva and Jemima mention in their session.

But Eva wasn’t just there to bring her celeb face and name to the event. She has been a philanthropist and activist for a long time, and says she found fame relatively later in her life, compared to regular Hollywood standards. Because she already had her BA by that point, she wasn’t seeking for fame to define her, which in itself is a great message.

“I became famous quite late in life – I was 28 or 29. I already had my BA, my education and I was quite set in who I am.”

The 30 year-old also admitted she campaigned for ex-US President Bill Clinton when she was 17, and when asked if she would campaign again for the other Clinton who is rumored to run in 2016, Hillary, she said this:

“I try not to talk about Hilary Clinton because we have a current President who needs a lot of public support.”

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Since finishing her run on the popular series ‘Desperate Housewives’, Eva has taken a considerable break from acting to focus on work with her Eva Longoria Foundation, which is dedicated to helping the Latina community build better futures through education and entrepreneurship.

Eva has previously spoken about the importance of an increased female presence behind the scenes in Hollywood, and it was also something she touched on at the Summit.

“People tend to put women in boxes: She’s sexy, she’s ambitious, she’s smart, she’s a mom … but women are complex, and we are always underestimated. Women are all of those things at the same time,” she said.

She referenced one of the most popular and controversial pieces of literature for women over the past couple of years, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’.

“There’s a conversation to be had on stages like this or world stages, about gender rules and women’s identity. How can we be all those things? Sheryl Sandberg’s book talks about those things – ‘Women can have it all!’ – and I’ve been told that, but women can’t have it all at the same time.”

Both Jemima and Eva make mention that 85% of the Web Summit audience was made up of men, while they still continue to dominate the majority of management roles in the tech industry.

“I think traditionally, the sexism in these fields is still prevalent. I did my masters thesis specifically on Latino women in STEM fields, and I found a lot of them were discouraged even to this day from going into these fields,” she said.

However one of the biggest solutions she offered while specifically addressing the women in the audience, was mentoring others and sisterhood.

“I want to challenge all the women here today to become mentors to young women, and show them the way, and show them your path, because without mentors, the system does not work.”

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It falls right in line with the saying “you can’t be what you can’t see” and so being a mentor means allowing another person to see the possibilities that lie before them. Your very presence can be an incredible source of power to someone.

One of those representations Eva is passionate about, apart from business and tech through her foundation, is of course Hollywood.

“There is definitely under-representation of women in film and television and I think a large part of that is they’re not behind the camera: there are not enough writers and directors and producers that are female.”

And if you are not interested in Hollywood, or tech, then Eva says you can still be an activist, no matter what career you choose, and you can still play a role in the public sector.

“Volunteerism is a very big concept in my family. Along those same lines, in order to make great sustainable change, you need the private sector and also the public sector, which is government and policy. So that’s why I got into politics.”

“We turn out to vote for the president of the United States but we don’t turn out to vote for the people who work for him and with him,” said Longoria.

It’s so awesome to see a woman who, like she mentions at the beginning of the article, is very complex and is interested in a number of different areas. Her message about mentorship is vital, because there comes a point where we need to stop pointing the finger, stop looking back at the injustices of yesterday, and start empowering one another to move forward.

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