As the show's cast noted at ABC's Winter Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday, the 43-year-old actress and producer's relationship with the network could have earned her a green light on any series. She used the opportunity to adapt a Spanish series, Gran Hotel, into a modern-day drama with an incredibly diverse cast (Demián Bichir, Roselyn Sanchez and more star) and a storyline that showcases a new take on an immigrant family.
"This was a format from Spain, and it was a period piece and we contemporized it to modern-day Miami... it has a lot of themes of upstairs, downstairs. We thought it was very unique to have the upstairs be a Hispanic family and to show a different community," Longoria told reporters on Tuesday.
"It's based in Miami, so we're authentic to that world, and nine of our 11 cast members are people of color," she continued. "So, we're really proud of the adaptation that we did."
The new mom also used the show to give women positions behind the camera.
"We found a fantastic DP in Alison Kelly. To have a female DP in this industry is like a unicorn, and to have somebody as talented as Alison is amazing," Longoria raved, before revealing that she advocated for representation in other roles. "Our two ADs were women. Our stunt coordinator was a woman. Half of our writers' room are people of color and women. Seven out of 12 directors are women, so that was definitely the lens in which we wanted to produce this show."
"And it's still not common enough to have women behind the camera," she added. Once we hired Alison as our DP, she said, 'I want women in the camera department.' And it trickles down and it trickles down and it trickles down."
Longoria, who will also appear in front of the camera on Grand Hotel, worked with fellow executive producer Brian Tanen to make sure representation was a priority. Having grown up in Miami, he couldn't have been more on board and excited to bring authentic stories about the Latinx community to life.
"So often you see the underrepresented groups playing the housekeeper, playing service industry jobs, so it was special for us to be able to represent the upstairs as people of color," he said.
"[Grand Hotel] has enough DNA in common with the original to attract fans and viewers of the original show, but obviously with a new setting and new characters, it’s very much its own animal as well," he added. "I would say the other show is an inspiration."
Grand Hotel premieres Monday, June 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.