She was co-chair of President Obama’s re-election campaign and his inauguration this past January.

She’s on a presidential commission that is pushing for the establishment of a museum dedicated to Latinos in U.S. history.

She has charities dedicated to improving life for disabled children, education for Latinos, and business opportunities for Latinas.

And she is one of the most high-profile non-politician advocates for immigration reform.

All this while being a successful actress and executive producer.

Eva Longoria is, indeed, one of a rare breed that has become nearly as much of a force in politics and social issues as in Tinseltown.

Show your connection to us. You were raised in an environment similar to many Latinos. Talk to us like you're talking to family.

- Eva Longoria, speaking to President Obama

A telling moment of her clout in the White House, for instance, arose last year, when in a private meeting with Obama and some Latino leaders, she pushed for a program to help keep deportation at bay for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents.

When Obama cited Congress as the reason the DREAM Act, a measure to give such immigrants a path to legal status, was not moving forward, Longoria stopped him in his tracks, according to an account in The Wall Street Journal.

“To the surprise of several people present, Ms. Longoria persisted,” the Journal story said.

Longoria told the president that he had to take a step, even without Congress, to help such immigrants.

"Show your connection to us," Longoria said, according the newspaper. "You were raised in an environment similar to many Latinos. Talk to us like you're talking to family."

Those who were present described the exchange as nothing less than breathtaking. 

"It was a powerful moment,” San Antonio businessman Henry Munoz was quoted in the newspaper as saying. “Eva is disarming because she's petite and beautiful, but the president respected her forceful advice."

Not long after the meeting, Obama announced a plan to offer undocumented immigrants brought as minors a two-year reprieve from deportation. The so-called deferred action program also allowed those who qualified the chance to get work permits.

Her ascent in both Hollywood and Washington D.C. is remarkable; her beginnings were humble.

Longoria, the daughter of Mexican-American parents – a teacher and an Army engineer – grew up in Corpus Christi, Tex.

“I took out loans to pay for school,” she proudly recalled during her speech at the Democratic National Convention last year. “Then I changed oil in a mechanic shop, flipped burgers at Wendy’s, taught aerobics and worked on campus to pay them back.”

Longoria graduated in May with a Master's degree in Chicano Studies that she had been pursuing over the past three years at California State University.

For her diploma, she wrote a thesis entitled "Success STEMS From Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers." STEM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

Those who have had a ringside seat to her rise still marvel over it.

“I’m a little in awe in terms of how she’s transformed herself,” said Marc Cherry, a Hollywood producer, to The New York Times. 

“She was just an actress that had done a couple of prime-time shows and had done some daytime,” said Cherry, who chose Longoria about a decade ago for the television hit “Desperate Housewives.”

“At some point she blossomed into this spokeswoman for the Latin community, as someone who was involved in political issues, meeting the president, going to the White House,” Cherry said. “I became super impressed with her decision to lead a more meaningful life than your typical Hollywood actress.”

Like most people who rise high, and stick their necks out, Longoria has attracted controversy.

Her new television series, “Devious Maids,” of which she is executive producer and which features scheming Hispanic housekeepers, has drawn criticism from some Latinos who say it exacerbates stereotypes.

Longoria has balked at the criticism, saying that being a housekeeper is a reality for many Latinas.

“Even though this show may not be your experience,” she told The New York Times, “it is a lot of people’s experience. [Latinos are] over-index in domestic workers: that is a fact, that’s not an opinion.”

Last year, it was a tweet about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that got her in trouble with his supporters, including fellow entertainer comedian Paul Rodriguez.

The actress retweeted a tweet that read: "I have no idea why any woman/minority can vote for Romney. You have to be stupid to vote for such a racist/misogynistic tw*t."

She later deleted the retweet and apologized.

In an interview with Fox News Latino, Rodriguez, who was featured by the Romney campaign in an ad, said about the tweet: "When it gets personal. . . it goes below the belt.”

Some Latino leaders would like to see Longoria throw her hat into the political ring someday.

But she has said she is not interested.

“I don’t need to be appointed or elected,” she said. “You think Hollywood is nasty? Try D.C.”

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