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A politically charged group of Hollywood stars gathered Thursday evening at the annual Eva Longoria Foundation Gala at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills to support the foundation and its mission to empower the Latina community through mentorship, scholarship and entrepreneurship.
The sixth annual event honored actresses Gina Rodriguez and Zoe Saldana as two women who are recognized as activists and role models in the Latina community. Attendees, including actress Karla Souza, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the importance of mentorship. “I think that the amount of knowledge that younger generations need to know about the status quo is very important because if not, then we cannot change the status quo,” she said. “I think that mentorship is extremely important in every single circle of work.”
Saldana also discussed perseverance and the necessity of having the right role models, explaining to THR how she began her media company, Bese, which focuses on empowering the Latinx community. “I can always focus on those that tell me that I can’t, but I’ve chosen very early on in my life to focus on the ones that told me I could,” she said. “And that’s why I’m here. I think that spreading that seed of hope is much more rewarding and much more effective than talking about all the impossibilities.”
Following a lengthy introduction by Longoria as guests enjoyed a three-course dinner, several young Latina women spoke about the scholarships and mentorship they have received from the Eva Longoria Foundation.
Jane the Virgin star Rodriguez spoke about how humbled and empowered she felt to be honored by the foundation. “When Eva Longoria recognizes me as a leader I say, ‘I see you, I hear you and I promise I won’t let you down,'” she said. “My dad always told us a good leader doesn’t gain followers. They create other leaders. So I want to say to all the women that have lifted me up to this day, you won. Because if you think that I am a leader, then you did exactly what you set out to do.”
The Eva Longoria Foundation works to lift up the Latina community through many different programs, including after-school STEM workshops, college scholarships for first-generation Latina students and microloans for Latina entrepreneurs.
Along with those initiatives, Best Buy CFO Cori Barry announced that the nonprofit will team up with his company to create a new Best Buy Teen Tech Center in El Paso, Texas. The center, which is slated to open in 2019, will allow teens in underserved communities access to technology and training to prepare them for tech careers of the future.