Eva Longoria’s ‘Telenovela’ Brings Much Needed Hispanic Diversity To Television

Recently, Eva Longoria spoke at a panel as a member of the National Association of Television Program Executives (N.A.T.P.E.) on “Sharpening the focus: How U.S. networks are engaging the Hispanic audience,” which was about the lack of Hispanics in television in general and, more specifically, about her own upcoming NBC comedy, Telenovela. While Ms. Longoria emphasized that the comedy would not be a Latin show, it does feature a telenovela star who doesn’t speak Spanish, and Eva adds that the main character is based primarily on herself. Longoria spoke to the panel addressing issues concerning the Hispanic community and the lack of representation in entertainment. Ms. Longoria feels that television tends to lose the Hispanic voice, even while the media has taken great strides toward diversity in entertainment.

“Diversity means more than black people on television,” Longoria said. “We’ve seen an amazing increase in black writers, and other talent.”

While Eva and her production team have recently sold eight shows throughout the various networks, she worries that she may be viewed too narrowly, making her heritage a greater issue than the products she’s promoting, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“I’m not the Hispanic go to producer. That’s not what I set out to do. A lot of the shows we develop happen to have interesting, diverse characters, a lot of female characters. And about half are organically Hispanic characters.”

In spite of her apparent successes, Eva Longoria continues to push for greater acceptance. While she does acknowledge that selling so many ethnically diverse shows has been a major accomplishment, Ms. Longoria also recognizes that the real hurdle is to get them through development and out to television viewers.

Eva’s Telenovela comes at a time when all networks are striving for more diversity in programming, and Ms. Longoria hopes the new show will provide a greater representation of Hispanics in entertainment. Telenovela will star Eva Longoria as Ana Maria, a leading actress on one of the Latin soap operas, who finds that there is as much drama behind the camera as there is in front of it. Like Longoria herself, Ana Maria does not speak Spanish, adding to her difficulties in maintaining her success. The show is based on the popular Latin soap operas primarily carried on foreign cable channels, but NBC is working to change that. The network has been in talks with Telemundo, one of the more popular Latin networks, to produce and air fake episodes of the soap opera created for Telenovela, reports Latin Times. There are hopes, even among Ms. Longoria herself, that this may lead to crossover episodes and Latin soap stars making the transition to mainstream networks like NBC.

Eva Longoria’s popularity may bring a wider fan base to the project with her heightened popularity on social media. Christy Haubegger, an agent at CAA who also served as a N.A.T.P.E. panel moderator, noted that Eva Longoria currently has over eight million followers on Twitter, beating out the CW network.

Another star striving to bring the Hispanic voice to Hollywood is Michelle Rodriguez. Recently, she spoke about that and other personal details in an interview with Milla Jovovich.