Eva Longoria in Cannes

CANNES, France — “I was lucky because it was called ‘Desperate Housewives’ and not ‘Desperate Husbands,’” quipped Eva Longoria during a Kering Women in Motion talk at the Majestic Hotel on Friday.

The Time’s Up co-founder, whose activism and charitable work has taken on a sense of urgency since having her son, said that the organization is studying what role it can play in the 2020 elections in the U.S. “We’re trying to figure out how can we have an impact, not only with the presidential election, but in state governments. We see what’s happening in Alabama right now, which is crazy, archaic, not progressive, not American,” she said, referencing that state’s banning of all abortions.

On the goal set by Time’s Up to achieve 50-50 equality in the workplace in Hollywood by 2020, “The statistics are going the wrong way, we’re not improving,” she said.

The actor, director and producer who is directing her first feature, “24-7,” in which she also stars alongside Kerry Washington, talked about her efforts to surround herself with a female-led team and how she used “Desperate Housewives” as a film school.

“It was a decade of my life, I knew I wasn’t reaching my full potential, I’d go to work, say my lines and then I’d leave. And I would always look at the people behind the monitor and go, ‘Who are those people?’” she said. “I paid attention where the lights went, what the cameras do, what the lenses do, and I knew I wanted to have more control of the final product.”

Sharing tips for people looking to start out in the industry, “Touch every rung of the ladder,” she said.
“When I moved to Hollywood 20 years ago, I was an extra for two years… And then I got one line, and then I got two lines, and then I got five lines, and I literally worked my way up, and I did the same thing when I became a producer,” said Longoria, who was an extra on shows including “Ally McBeal,” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.” “I was an extra a lot, mostly because they fed you. I was so poor, and they would give you breakfast, lunch and dinner — I would take bananas, I was totally exploiting that moment,” she said.

Longoria also spoke about her relationship with social media, in relation to comments made by Selena Gomez – the world’s third most followed person on Instagram – during the press conference for “The Dead Don’t Die” on how terrible it has been for her generation.

“I’m older than Selena, also in the sense that I had a really stronger sense of self when social media came out,” said Longoria, adding that while she uses social media as a tool for promoting her movies and TV shows, philanthropy and activism, “I don’t let it define me.”

“I don’t read the comments. I have a thick skin, so if there’s negative stuff it just bounces off… but I can understand how a young person today cannot handle that,” she said.

Another topic discussed was the ongoing gender pay gap in Hollywood, with Longoria sharing that she recently experienced it on a film she worked on. “It’s interesting to navigate, because you want to do the work and so they hold the work ransom: ‘Do you want it or not?’” she said.

“The great thing to come out of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements is that women are talking to each other… I’m able to call Reese Witherspoon and say ‘What did you do with this studio? What happened?’… I’m able to call Natalie Portman, and she’ll call me. We have now this wonderful sisterhood and community of information,” she said.

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