Eva Longoria

The actress, restaurateur and nightclub operator talks about a difficult year, new opportunities and being a role model

It’s been awhile since Eva Longoria looked forward to a birthday this much. The petite Desperate Housewives star, who turns 36 on March 15, has had quite the tumultuous few months. In November, she filed for divorce from her husband of nearly four years, NBA star Tony Parker, alleging infidelity. In January, she was dealt another blow when her restaurant Beso—an offshoot of her successful Hollywood venture of the same name—and nightclub Eve had to file for bankruptcy protection, and the venues are embattled in lawsuits involving former partners. This didn’t stop Longoria from renovating the club, located in the Crystals mall at CityCenter, for its recent one-year anniversary. She’s hoping that Vegas along with continued dedication to her philanthropic causes will get her new year off to positive start.

How do you look back at the past year?

You know, it was a stumbling block. It has definitely been difficult to find my legs to stand on and finding my own identity as a single person. It’s going to continue being a challenge for me because I loved being a wife and I loved my life. So, for me, it’s kind of having to start over and spend some time with myself and seeking out what I want. And that’s weird because I’ve never been in a solo position of thinking about just me; the past seven years I’ve been in a relationship and always thinking about an us. This will be new, but I welcome the process and I welcome the new experiences that are yet to come.

What are you most looking forward to?

Vegas has always been a special place for me to celebrate my birthday. Vegas just screams celebration and birthday fun. This year, turning 36, it’s kind of starting over and a rebirth of some sort as far as my identity and singlehood. What better place to do that than Las Vegas?

How does operating a restaurant/nightclub here differ from Los Angeles?

It’s a whole different beast. It’s funny because Hollywood and Vegas are both very touristy towns, so a lot of it is this transient customer. As in Hollywood, you have your locals and then your tourists, so you have to customize the menu to please everyone in the nation. The amount of visitors that come make it challenging, but I think we’ve nailed it.

This location has presented its fair share of challenges. Are you still excited about it?

We had a bumpy start because of some mismanagement, but everything is done and taken care of, and I’m actually more excited about it now because we have a fresh start and we’ve created such a great name for ourselves with winning Best New Restaurant [in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s readers’ poll]. I’m just as excited now as I was before.

And Nightclub & Bar Magazine put Eve in its top 100 venues. Was that a surprise?

I’m actually blown away by it. I was doing another interview and they told me I was the only Latina club owner on the Strip, and I was, like, Wow, how can that be possible? I’m very proud of everything that has been happening in Vegas, especially with the economy. We’ve kind of been holding our own and we’re the crown jewel of Crystals, I think. We have a consistent flow of people. Eve is a whole different beast to me; Eve and Beso are two completely different things. I didn’t intend to open a nightclub. Here in Hollywood the lounge is really teeny tiny, about a fourth the size of the restaurant. Where in Vegas, the club is double the size of the restaurant. That was kind of a new adventure for me. To have a nightclub in Vegas, I could never have dreamed of that. Every time I go I just feel really proud. I walk in and see the service that people are getting and the music and I see it’s crowded and everyone is having a great time. It’s probably a perfect metaphor for what I think Vegas represents.

Desperate Housewives has been such a successful show. How do you top that?

You can never really re-create the experience that we had with this worldwide global phenomenon. With Desperate Housewives, all the pieces just fit. I had a better chance of winning the lottery than what has happened in my life, which I appreciate and have gratitude for. The next thing is to not think about how I’m going to top it but to just do different things and branch out, whether it’s film or directing or producing. It’s just about having a new experience—not necessarily a better one but to just be able to spread my wings as a human being, not only as an actor. I want to keep going in my life.

As a star of that show, it made you a role model for Latinas. How does it feel to be looked up to in such a way?

I embrace that role. I love being a role model for Latinas because, for me growing up, the only role models I had growing up were in my family—my mother, my aunt and my sisters. In this day and age when everyone can become famous and become a celebrity, it’s important to recognize the influence that you have on young girls. I take that responsibility very seriously, and I try to do my best with inspiring them and motivating them to be their best self and attain the highest for themselves.

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@VegasDegenerate One of my favorite things is seeing tourists run like maniacs to see the Bellagio fountain show and get to the rail just as it ends. @DoucheLarue Monopoly gets major makeover—yeah, now when you buy property, it loses half its value after you pass “go” three times.