Eva Longoria became a household name when she was cast as Gabrielle Solis on the hit television show Desperate Housewives. A Screen Actors Guild Award winner and Golden Globe nominee, Eva is a champion of charities and organizations supporting Latinos. She has been honored several times with American Latino Media Arts awards and was selected in 2006 as ALMA’s “person of the year.” In interviews, Longoria is open about her Mexican-American heritage and her childhood in South Texas – a sharp contrast to the life of a Hollywood actress.
The Longoria family’s roots in Texas run back to a time before Texas even existed. Lorenzo Longoria, Eva’s first ancestor to arrive in the New World, sailed from Spain in 1603. Through the generations, Lorenzo’s descendants moved north to the modern US-Mexico border. In 1767, Pedro Longoria, Eva’s 7th great-grandfather, received almost 4000 acres along the Rio Grande in a land grant from the King of Spain. This land stayed in the family for over a century, enduring even the influx of Anglo settlers in the aftermath of the Civil War. Though Eva celebrates her “Tex-Mex” heritage, she recognizes that a significant part of her bloodline runs back to Europe. The stories within her family tree open up a fascinating and under-studied area of US history, and give a new face to America’s earliest settlers.