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Cannes Lions: Diversity Drives Creativity According to Eva Longoria and McCann Worldgroup


Cannes Lions - Eva Longoria
A provocative and inspiring conversation moderated by Daryl Lee, Global CEO, McCann Worldgroup, with award-winning actor, director and producer Eva Longoria about stories of worth and the power of representation. L’Oréal’s “Because You’re Worth It” was an entry point as the panel discussed the role that brands and creativity can play in shaping perception, driving representation and changing culture.  

You have just released Flamin Hot your first ever feature film as a director. You spoke about the challenges of being a woman, a Latina, and of being the director of a major Hollywood feature film. Why did you put yourself through that? And why did you feel the need to change perceptions about yourself?
Eva Longoria: Hollywood defines what heroes look like. Our industry gets to dictate what those images are in the world and what happens is these images educate other communities about us. If you don't have Latinos who live down your block, you're going to assume that they look like what you see on TV or in film. And more importantly, it educates our own communities about ourselves. And so, I thought about a great opportunity to create a hero who looks like me, that sounds like my dad, because heroes never look like us. I wanted to tell this story because Flamin Hot is the number one snack in the world, a multi-billion-dollar brand, and is successful because of a Mexican janitor who was cleaning the floors and thought, why not put chili on a chip and market it to the Hispanic community?

The movie is also about perseverance, from rags to riches and the American dream. But it's really about how opportunity is not distributed equally. You can be talented, but do you get the same opportunity as a man? Do you get the same opportunity as a person of color? Do you get the same opportunity as your peers? The story of Richard Montanez is a lesson of worth. Somebody finding the worth in themselves with an amazing partner in his life who keeps coming back to him and says, you're worth it, you don't believe it yet, but you're worth it. There's a meaningful lesson in the movie, and we had so much success in the last two weeks so we're very proud of it.

And is this how you as a person and director find worth in yourself?
Eva Longoria: I grew up with a lot of women, my mom, my aunts, I have three sisters, there's no men in my family. I grew up with a lot of self-worth because the women in my life told me that and showed me. They put values in education and in being independent. They never said you live in Texas. They told me that I live in this world and that I should know about other countries and cultures. I had a lot of self-worth because I saw it first-hand.

But in my work as a director, as a producer, as a storyteller, I know we have so many stories to tell from my community, Richard Montanez being one of them. I want to change Hollywood to tap into a different pipeline of talents. You know, Hollywood uses the same people all the time and they tell the same stories. With all of these streaming platforms and social media, everybody has become a content creator. You have to be innovative, and the only way you can be innovative is by diversifying that point of view. There's value in my community, and producing with purpose and telling stories that inspire my community to not only do more, but to be more, is definitely my life's mission.

Would you say you were attracted to working with L’Oréal because of its mantra or did that happen in the moment?
Eva Longoria: It just happened in the moment. First of all, I also grew up as the ugly duckling. My sisters were the beautiful ones and I was like, well, I'll be the smart one, or I'm going to be the funny one. I think that's why I went into acting. I remember when I first started with L’Oréal almost 20 years, and I had to say their infamous phrase, I started crying on camera. I got to say this mantra, because it's not a slogan to me, it's like a call to all women everywhere to take control of their lives and figure out what they add value to. You add value to your family, to your job, to your relationship, to your husband, to your mom, and more.

You do bring a lot of comedy to the set...
Eva Longoria: Well, that's the thing, when you're working with brands you have to have an authentic connection to it. Over the pandemic, I thought I was ready to grow out my grey hair. My grey grew out a lot and it was maybe four inches tall and then I realized that I'm not ready for it. And so, I did a tutorial because I always use my Magic Root product and I sprayed it on my hair and it got around two million views. But people still couldn't believe that I showed my real grey hair. That’s something that overperforms a commercial sometimes because of the authenticity of it, and I was just Instagramming and wasn’t planning something that goes viral.

You agree that authentic storytelling gets more attention...
Eva Longoria: Yes. The reason I love L’Oréal so much is in its DNA and the ethos of the company. It's not about selling lipstick and hair color, it’s about this mantra; I know when I put on a red lip, or when I color my hair, that I become unstoppable. People will forget what you did and forget what you said, but they'll never forget how you made them feel. And that's really what's behind “Because You’re Worth It.” We have this insane reach to women everywhere in the world. We want to say, hey, figure out your self-worth in your life and hold on to it.

L'Oréal Paris has recently announced that you will not only be the face of the brand but also directing its campaigns going forward

Eva Longoria: Helping to shape the vision and the future and to tell stories of worthful women all around the world is very exciting. I don't know if anybody knows the brand like I do. I feel like I'm going to have a really great lens in which we tell these stories and I'm thrilled to do it. L'Oréal has been amazing at putting female directors behind these commercials and I'm one of many lucky female directors that get to do these advertisements, which is very rare in advertising.