PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Eva Longoria is putting her focus on the sports world in a new series of short films the actress is executive producing for ESPN.
Longoria's first effort for the "Versus" series debuting in May is about Sebastien De La Cruz, the young mariachi singer whose performance of the national anthem before Game 3 of the 2013 NBA Finals set off a barrage of racist tweets about Latinos and immigrants.
Like Longoria, De La Cruz is from San Antonio, Texas, so the story hit close to home for the Mexican-American actress. She was once married to Spurs star Tony Parker.
"I really wanted to tell that story because what came out of it was something beautiful and a really great lesson," Longoria told the Television Critics Association meeting Wednesday. "We got into this little boy who plays soccer and was thrown into the center of this debate about immigration and what it's about to be Mexican."
Longoria was approached by ESPN to work on the "Versus" series that explores moments where sports transcends the action on the field.
Among the Spurs appearing in the film is coach Gregg Popovich, who congratulated De La Cruz at midcourt after his performance.
"Nobody had a stronger reaction than Popovich," Longoria said. "That was the first person I went to and said, 'Will you please do this because it's so important?' and he said, 'Done.'"
Another of the short films Longoria worked on involves Violet Palmer, the NBA's first female referee.
Since her star-making turn in the hit series "Desperate Housewives" ended three years ago, Longoria has moved mostly behind the camera.
"I'm a natural at directing because I love telling people what to do," she said, laughing. "I really enjoy finding the truth of things as opposed to working with actors."
Longoria said she plans to be back on television next year, although she said, "I don't know how or where or what yet."
ESPN announced two new subjects for its "30 for 30" film series. "Of Miracles and Men," airing in February, looks at the 1980 Olympic hockey game between the U.S. and Soviet Union from the Russians' point of view. "I Hate Christian Laettner," named for the former Duke star, is about sports hatred.