MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Eva Longoria is spending her birthday in the Magic City.
Donning a red dress and new hairstyle, the actress and Latin beauty stood in front of the flashing bulbs and microphones at Cavalli Miami on the eve of her 39th birthday Friday night to celebrate her appearance on the cover of this month's Ocean Drive magazine.
Longoria, who rose to stardom on the popular ABC series "Desperate Housewives" (2004-12) and was recently named woman of the year by Maxim magazine, commands sex appeal on the March issue cover as she poses in a swimming pool with her olive skin glistening in the South Florida sun.
Ten years ago, Longoria was just beginning to catch men's eyes after recurring roles in several soap operas and starring in "Senorita Justice," a low-budget movie set in Miami that was never released theatrically. Then she was cast as Gabrielle Solis in "Desperate Housewives," for which she received a Golden Globe nomination and won two Screen Actors Guild awards.
A decade later, the Texan-born heartthrob is still doing what she loves and more, adding producing, political activism and philanthropy to her laundry list of accolades. She even found the time to earn her master's degree in Chicano studies from California State University, Northridge.
But that hasn't stopped Longoria from still embracing her sex-symbol status.
"Definitely I have a stronger hold of who I am, obviously wiser," Longoria told Local10.com. "I feel more intelligent than a lot of things 10 years ago, so it makes me feel sexier."
Ocean Drive turned to Greg Lotus to capture Longoria's sexy spread. The renowned photographer, whose work has been featured in fashion magazines Vanity Fair and Vogue, chose his Miami home as the location for the shoot.
"The photographer's a really good friend of mine," Longoria said. "He's like, 'Hey, let's go shoot Ocean Drive,' and I was like, 'OK.' So that's how it happened."
Actually, there's a little more to it than that. Ocean Drive editor-in-chief Jared Shapiro said when he and publisher Courtland Lantaff began discussing whom to feature on the magazine's fashion issue, Longoria was "a bit of a no-brainer."
Shapiro said Longoria, who lives in Los Angeles but calls Miami her second home, has "reinvented herself" since she last graced the cover in January 2007.
"She's doing movies," Shapiro said. "She's doing different TV shows. She's producing with 'Devious Maids.' So she's here all the time."
Shapiro, who joined Ocean Drive last March, wanted the opportunity to work with Longoria, and she didn't disappoint.
"She jumped into the pool at our photo shoot fully clothed," Shapiro said.
The result was picture perfection. Of course, it helped that Ocean Drive was able to capitalize on the relationship between Longoria and Lotus.
"Eva knows him. He knows Eva," Shapiro said. "They feel very comfortable together."
Although Longoria is spending her birthday weekend in Miami, she has no agenda. When asked how she intends to spend her time, she simply replied, "Eat."
She stays plenty fit, though, running 5 miles a day and weaning off sugar for months at a time.
"I always get inspired to work out here, and I find that I eat healthier in Miami than in LA," Longoria said.
As for her future plans, Longoria said she has been juggling a number of projects, including producing an upcoming ABC series set in Miami -- an adaptation of a telenovela called "Pure Sangre."
"It's like a 'Game of Thrones' in a corporation, who's fighting to be the next leader of the family," Longoria explained.
For now, Longoria is just enjoying the fanfare in her home away from home.
"I think she just really resonates with Miami and with the big entertainment events that occur in South Florida during the month of March," Lantaff said.
The fact that her birthday happens to coincide with her Ocean Drive party is, as Lantaff said, "just one of those organically beautiful things."
"We all get to celebrate with her," Lantaff said. "It's wonderful."
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