Sweet charity! Mexican American actress Eva Longoria and part-Spanish actor and singer Lea Michele are being recognized as a Lifetime Impact Honorees for their noble philanthropic work at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon in Beverly Hills.
Each year, the industry magazine recognizes women in entertainment who pour themselves into causes greater than themselves to make a difference in the world around them. During the luncheon, 400 Hollywood insiders, A-list talent and special guests come together to celebrate, support and pay tribute to the philanthropic efforts of honorees. The goal: to inspire and encourage women from all walks of life to get involved, give back and make a difference.
“The Desperate Housewives” star is being recognized for her own non-profit organization, Eva’s Heroes, which aims to help special needs teenagers and young adults with special needs to integrate and flourish in society. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Eva’s Heroes provides after-school and summer programs, as well as monthly activities that help cultivate an inclusive atmosphere based on four tenets: interaction, growth, learning and love.
“My older sister, whose name is Elizabeth, has a mental disability, and she’s the oldest of four girls,” says the 36-year-old Longoria. “I was born into her world, so I didn’t know any other world. Growing up in south Texas we saw how many programs Elizabeth benefited from, so it was always a natural fit to give back to the special needs community because the special needs community gave to us.”
So what’s next for Eva’s Heroes?
“We want to go regional, statewide, nationally,” proclaims Longoria. “Every community could use the template that we use; it would be so easy.”
Meanwhile, “Glee” star Lea Michele is being honored for lending her voice to help People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) fight for animal rights, including a recent campaign against horse-drawn carriage rides in New York City. Michele got involved with PETA five years ago after seeing a presentation on one of supermodel Janice Dickinson’s reality show.
“They showed a video, which was very disturbing, but it opened up my eyes,” recalls the 25-year-old Michele. “Afterward the spokesperson said if you could just take one moment and go look online, and I immediately turned off the television and went onto peta.com.”
Michele left a note saying she was a Broadway actress who wanted to help. She received an email reply by email the next day and has been working with them ever since.
“I’m constantly brainstorming (with PETA) about what we can do,” professes Michele. “I’m so thankful that being in this business and this industry gives you a little power to inform people on these issues.”
Along with Longoria and Michele, this year’s Lifetime Impact Honorees include actress Annette Bening, singer Mary J. Blige, DreamWorks Studios co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider and actress Olivia Wilde.