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Eva Longoria speaks...

Los Angeles (Reuters): Eva Longoria is annoyed. The Latina beauty on hit television show ''Desperate Housewives'' is bugged by all the newspaper, magazine and Web gossip about her sex life when there are more important issues to think about. She is as comfortable talking about US immigration policy and the plight of migrant farm workers as she is having her bikini-clad body on a mega-sized magazine cover spread out in the Nevada desert so that it can be seen from outer space. Longoria, 31, is a beauty, but her brain is big, too, and she wants folks to know it. So when the media focus on her sex life with boyfriend Tony Parker, as happened last month, Longoria gets irritated.

''It's annoying, absolutely,'' she told Reuters ahead of Friday's US release of her new movie, thriller ''The Sentinel,'' in which she portrays a rookie US Secret Service agent. ''I respect good journalism. I respect certain newspapers and certain publications, and they are just watered down by the bounty for gossip and pictures and information that is irrelevant and uninteresting,'' she said. Of course, a lot of that attention comes from the image she has built as a sexpot. She was among People magazine's ''50 Most Beautiful People'' and was No. 1 on Maxim magazine's ''Hot 100'' list of sexy women. She called the publicity ''flattering,'' but added it was Hollywood's star making machine talking, not her.

Longoria skyrocketed to stardom in 2004 in ''Desperate Housewives'' as the sexy Gabrielle Soliz whose skin-tight jeans and skimpy dresses often raise the eyebrows -- not to mention the ire -- of the other neighbourhood wives. The show premiered on US TV and became an instant hit. It averages more than 20 million US viewers weekly and is now a global phenomenon seen in 200 countries. but beyond the Hollywood glitz, Longoria holds a degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She is a spokeswoman for Padres Contra el Cancer, which is dedicated to helping Latino children with the disease, and works with the United Farm Workers labour union.

She said it was ''unfortunate'' that in the United States-a nation of immigrants-some lawmakers want to deport illegal aliens and fence off the Mexico/US border. ''Mexicans contribute an enormous amount to our society, economically and socially,'' she said. ''I don't think this administration can afford to have things end badly.'' Longoria has politics on her mind a lot these days, in real life and in the movies.

In ''The Sentinel,'' she co-stars with Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland. They play Secret Service agents who clash when the president's life is threatened by assassins. Longoria is a sharp rookie who is teamed with Sutherland in what is her first role in a major Hollywood movie.She is not the headlining actress; her part supports the male leads. But Longoria said she was not looking to top movie marquees yet, and did not need the added pressure of being the sole star responsible for the film's box office. ''I wanted to be in a good, ensemble cast,'' she said. ''It was an amazing opportunity to work with great actors in a less stressful environment.''

Unlike many actors and actresses who proclaim that they do not plan careers and that roles just seem to come along, Longoria says she strategises about her choices. She graduated from college with plans to work in sports medicine and become a trainer for a professional sports team. Boyfriend Parker is a star player for basketball's San Antonio Spurs.

Longoria never dreamed of movie stardom back on her family's ranch near the south Texas town of Corpus Christi. ''We couldn't afford to go to movies,'' she said. Her fantasy was to be on TV. She won a modelling contest that sent her to Hollywood where she began building a resume. She did extra work, then bit parts on ''Beverly Hills 90210'' and small roles on soap operas like ''The Bold and The Beautiful.'' ''I planned. It was definitely intentional,'' she said. But movies-not TV-are the top rung on the career ladder for actors in Hollywood, so after only one season on ''Desperate Housewives,'' she shot ''The Sentinel'' -- during her summer vacation.

Later this year, fans will see Longoria in a low-budget film ''Harsh Times'' that she shot over the Christmas holiday. She portrays a lawyer who grew up poor but became successful. ''It's a dark, dark drama. Very indie,'' she said. ''Anytime you do a good independent film...you're respected in a circle of critics and a circle in the industry. That was definitely a choice.'' ''Harsh Times'' is expected to be released this fall, just in time for Hollywood's Oscar season.

Read more about: tony parker, eva longoria parker
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