Eva Longoria is actor, director and producer of the hilarious new primetime comedy, "Telenovela." In a video interview with NBC Latino and MSNBC, she spoke with pride of a show that will appeal to everyone yet make many Latinos chuckle at the antics of a Spanish-language soap opera actress who does not speak the language.
"I play the star, Ana Sofía, of a Spanish soap who does not speak Spanish - she just memorizes her lines, so she's kind of like a fish out of water," said Longoria, adding that's sort of how she grew up - a Texas Latina who didn't speak Spanish.
"Navigating that identity in the United States was definitely interesting." She said she has since learned Spanish and has a "different relationship" with her heritage.
Longoria said "Telenovela" is a universal story, since it's really a workplace comedy - except the workplace is the set of a Spanish-language soap opera. The talented actress, producer and director as well as political and civil rights activist said she grew up watching telenovelas even if she didn't understand them. She said laughing it was easy to tell who was who - "that's the bad guy, that's the villain, that's the good guy."
Longoria spoke with pride about the all-Latino cast of the show; she said it's the second one she has created (first was the cast of her show "Devious Maids"). "I'm proud of it because you never see it on TV," said Longoria.
Longoria's ex-husband on the show is played by Jencarlos Canela, a big pop star in Latin America who has also been in Spanish-language soap operas. Other actors are Amaury Nolasco, who plays the "villain" in the "telenovela" and Diana Maria Riva, described by Longoria as the show's "Ethel" to her "Lucy."
About how her character can be relatable to other Latinos, Longoria said that "for Latinos specifically, there is this ebb and flow of pressure to assimilate, and pressure to be monolingual, to be you know, acculturated - [yet] Latinos so much want to hold on to their culture and their heritage."
"It is a beautiful thing to be bicultural, to be hyphenated, say Mexican-American or Cuban-American."