Eva Longoria should have Bobby Turner, W’84, introduce her at all her events. The private equity king and social impact leader described her this way: “Eva is everything.” In launching this fall’s Lauren and Bobby Turner Social Impact Executive Speaker Series, he said that Longoria is not just an actor but an activist, not just a model but a role model.
For her part, Longoria presented an understated version of herself on stage in a casual and comfortable outfit of black pants and long-sleeve T. Yet surely Longoria created more fans during her Oct. 10 talk in a packed Irvine Auditorium with her version of the American Dream than she had previously in the City of Brotherly Love.
Longoria related her background the audience made up mostly of the Penn community, from her family upbringing in a lower-middle-class home in Texas with a black-and-white TV, to the lessons learned as the sister of a special-needs person, to her work during high school flipping burgers at Wendy’s.
“I’ve always had 10 jobs,” she kidded.
Now is no different. After becoming a near-instant celebrity through ABC’s hit show Desperate Housewives, Longoria has pursued careers as an author and entrepreneur, activist and philanthropist. She currently owns her own production company, is national co-chair of Obama for America, and is founder of no less than two charities—Eva’s Heroes and The Eva Longoria Foundation.
Through all of her endeavors, she is cognizant of her “brand.”
For instance, with her production company, she is focused on programming with a “social message.”
Much of her activism is focused on two communities, the Latino community and women, which in her view are overly affected by public policy.
Much of her social impact and philanthropy is focused on education. Her philosophy is derived from the belief that society should invest in an “infrastructure of opportunity.”
“I had a lot of help along the way,” she said.
She also devotes herself to the cause of special-needs adults (in honor of her sister), such as the work she does with Eva’s Heroes, and to Latino families with children suffering from cancer.
The Turners (Bobby and wife Lauren Golub Turner, W’85,) launched the Social Impact Executive Speaker Series “in the hope of bringing a different kind of speaker to campus,” Bobby Turner told the audience at Longoria’s talk. The ultimate goal is to inspire the Penn community with the high-profile leaders that they invite to campus. This year’s event featured a record registration of about 2,500.