When she is not producing TV shows, earning a master’s degree in Chicano studies or promoting a movie, Eva Longoria is bringing Latino issues to the forefront. Longoria is once again making headlines, this time for her charity work. Last week, the Mexican-American star and others announced they are giving $170,000 to the Friends of the American Latino Museum, which aims to build a museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The group will make grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 to the Smithsonian Latino Center, the American Latino Heritage Fund of the National Park Foundation and the Kennedy Center to support Latino cultural programs.
During President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, Longoria hosted the Latino Inaugural Gala to celebrate Hispanic arts and culture while recognizing the developing strength of Latino voters. Organizers of the gala concert and several other events are donating the proceeds to Friends of the American Latino Museum.
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While her latest project represents a major initiative to promote Latino art and culture, the Desperate Housewives star has been heavily criticized for co-producing Devious Maids, a show about Latina maids to premiere on Lifetime network. The show seems to be a contradiction to the political and cultural projects Longoria supports, given its stereotypical depiction of Latinas as maids.
“I am not the only Latina to be annoyed by the perpetuation of stereotype in Devious Maids, said Alisa Valdes in an opinion piece. Cosmo for Latinas editor Michelle Herrera Mulligan has also criticized Longoria’s support of the show.
Despite the backlash, we know Longoria puts her money where her mouth is. As co-chair of President Obama’s re-election campaign, she helped the President win over the Latino community. She also spearheaded the Futuro Fund. The Futuro Fund raised more than $30 million from the Latino community to help win Obama’s re-election.
In a written statement about the museum donation, Longoria said Latinos ”are leaving their mark in politics, culture and the arts” across the nation. The gift to the Smithsonian will support an upcoming exhibition entitled “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.