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Eva Longoria: Helping Women Changes Communities for the Better

2 minute read

If you’re missing Eva Longoria on the small screen since Desperate Housewives ended, don’t worry: you can see her in Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s upcoming PBS documentary, A Path Appears.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning duo of Kristof and WuDunn wrote the book upon which the series is based and recruited celebrity activists like Blake Lively, Ashley Judd, Malin Akerman, Alfre Woodward, Mia Farrow and Jennifer Garner to participate. The documentary aims to not only raise awareness about global poverty facing women and girls, but also present practical solutions that address these problems.

Longoria’s portion of the series is about poverty and teen pregnancy in Colombia, and features the actress and Kristof visiting the Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar foundation, run by Catalina Escobar, which provides education, counseling and job training for teenage mothers.

“I’m of the ideology that if you help a woman, she helps her family, and if she changes her family then you start to change communities,” Longoria says. “I always believe the key to breaking the cycle of poverty lies within the women of any community.”

Longoria, who runs an organization for special needs children and an organization to help Latinas break into STEM fields (called Eva’s Heroes and the Eva Longoria Foundation, respectively) says she is grateful to be able to use her fame to give others a voice. “If a celebrity wants to lend their name and share their spotlight so that these people who don’t have a voice can be heard, I recommend it and I commend it,” she says, noting that the world’s fixation on pop culture often obscures the stories of the neediest. “Unfortunately, these stories are put to the bottom of the news cycle, because they’re not sexy and they’re not glamorous.”

Longoria also said she was shocked at some of the problems the documentary uncovered inside the United States, especially when it comes to sex trafficking. “A lot of times we think, ‘oh that happens in Africa, oh that happens in China, that doesn’t happen in America,'” she says. “How could that be the United States of America?”

The third installation of A Path Appears airs on PBS on Feb 9th.

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com