The actress and filmmaker is joining a large group of other celebrities, artists, public figures and luminaries for Her Campus Media’s “I’m Still Graduating” Virtual Graduation Ceremony, and she reached back to a formative grade school memory to explain to students the importance of authenticity.
Longoria recalled how, while growing up in Texas, her mom made her take a gifted and talented assessment test in the third grade "in the hopes that I would qualify for a superior program that would put me on a brighter path."
"But all that meant for me as an eight-year-old or nine-year-old was leaving my friends and riding the bus all the way across town to a place that I didn't know," Longoria explained.
Thinking back to the morning of her first day at a new school, the actress said her mom made her the same meal she usually made, a bean taco, and then drove her to the bus stop.
"As I stepped onto the bus, all I saw was a sea of blonde hair. Kids who did not look like me," Longoria remembered with a laugh. "At that moment, everyone turned around to stare at me, and my bean taco. And as I stared back, I noticed they were all eating the same thing."
In each child's hand was a Pop-Tart, a breakfast treat that Longoria had never even seen before.
"I took my seat next to one of the kids and I immediately asked, 'What's that?!' And the kid responded, 'What's that?'" Longoria recalled, indicating the student's bafflement at her bean taco. "And then I heard one of them whisper, 'She's Mexican.'"
"It was apparently a fact that explained me. And I remember thinking, 'That's weird, what's a Mexican?' Even though I didn't know what the word meant, I knew it wasn't a good thing," Longoria said.
When she got home from school that day, she rushed home and begged her mom to go out and buy some Pop-Tarts so she could bring some for breakfast the next day.
"She looked at me like I was out of my mind," Longoria said. "She was like, 'Those things are four dollars a box. You know how many bean tacos I could make for four dollars?'"
"So, do you know what my mom packed for me for breakfast the next day? Two bean tacos," she continued. "She said, 'You go and you share your culture. Never forget where you came from.'"
For Longoria, this experience taught her "the importance of staying true to your most authentic self."
"So follow the path that feels right to you, while not being afraid to take a left turn once in a while. Be who you want to be and fight for what you believe in," she shared. "Congratulations to you, the class of 2020. When I think about all of you and the journeys that lie ahead for you, I challenge you to stay true to the bean taco, and not conform to the Pop-Tart."
Longoria joins numerous celebrities -- including Liam Payne, Jesse McCartney, Tamron Hall, Billie Jean King, Andrew Yang, Brooke Baldwin, Lauren Akins, Tyson Beckford and Jaime King among many, many others -- with her message for the Her Campus Media’s “I’m Still Graduating” Virtual Graduation Ceremony, celebrating the hard work of graduating students who, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, are unable to attend in-person ceremonies.
The star-studded virtual event kicks off Friday, May 15 starting at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT, on ImStillGraduating.com.