News Column

An Inaugural Show With Hispanic Flavor

January 21, 2013

Cindy Clark

Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria's transformation from Desperate Housewife to D.C. power player was on full display Sunday night as she juggled host and executive-producer duties at the Latino Inaugural Concert at the Kennedy Center.

The star-studded celebration of Latino arts and culture for the In Performance at the Kennedy Center event honored the presidential inauguration and capped off a three-day series of events on Latino civic engagement.

Known for her role as Gabrielle on ABC's Desperate Housewives, Longoria has been a high-profile supporter of President Obama, serving as a co-chair of his re-election campaign and a co-chair of the Presidential Inauguration Committee. She has been credited with drawing Latinos to the campaign and raising awareness about issues concerning them. She was a speaker at the Democratic National Convention in September.

And her efforts haven't stopped as she continues to lobby for Latino causes. "My New Year's resolution is to say 'no' more (often). So far it's not starting well!" Longoria said with a laugh.

On the red carpet, she talked about the evening. "Tonight is a big thank-you to the Latino community for all the hard work they did all across the country during the election."

The party's host, who wore a peach-colored gown by Vivienne Westwood, was proud of the occasion. "To be here in the Kennedy Center is a big honor for all of us, to be able to applaud the contributions these musicians and artists and actors have made."

Longoria is not the only star using her celebrity to get the word out. Award-winning Broadway actress Chita Rivera, who turns 80 Wednesday, talked about Latinos' influence in the election. "Look at me: I have so much to offer. I want this country to know that I am willing to work hard and make this a better world."

As for the president and first lady Michelle Obama, Rivera had praise. "The two of them together are amazing human beings," she said.

Oscar-winning West Side Story actress Rita Moreno, who performed with Rivera in the show, agreed. "He has enormous dignity," said Moreno, 81, who referred to the clip of the president singing a verse of Let's Stay Together. "Even when he sings an Al Green song."

Mario Lopez, co-host of The X Factor, was excited to be a show presenter. He said it was "great to be part of such a memorable and historic event."

Early in the show, Longoria introduced surprise guests Vice President Biden, his wife and their family. "I'm Joe Biden. I'm Jill's husband," the vice president joked.

Among the other stars in the show: musician Jose Feliciano, who performed the national anthem at the opening; singer Marc Anthony, who introduced Julian Castro, the popular Democratic mayor of San Antonio; and Prince Royce, who performed Stand By Me.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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