Eva Mendes’s ‘main priority’ is raising her daughters with Cuban influences


Eva Mendes speaks! Which is pretty rare these days. I used to think Eva was all hustle with her weekly pap strolls and Ryan Gosling name-drops. But things change and Eva really, really went underground. So underground that she successfully managed to hide two pregnancies almost completely. Photos of Eva are somewhat rare these days – she doesn’t go to premieres because she hasn’t made a movie in years, but she still has side projects, like her collaboration with NY & Co and more. Plus, she still gets pap’d once in a blue moon, and maybe once a year, she’ll talk to a magazine. This year, that magazine is Latina Mag. You can read the full piece here, but just beware: the way the Latina site is set up, it’s really annoying to try to read the full piece. Eva chats about her babies, about raising half-Cuban girls, and why both of her daughters have the name Amada.

How motherhood has changed her: “Well, I have two girls. That’s a lot. It’s early for me to make any big statement about having children. My older little girl is not yet 2 years old. My little one is still an infant, and right now it’s really about surviving those nights and trying to enjoy this time as much as possible with them, and start the bond between Esmeralda and Amada. It’s a really, really special time. I’m loving it.”

If & when she’ll return to acting: “I’m not sure, but it would definitely take something really special. I don’t like saying “take me away,” but essentially that’s what work does. I think it can be very, very healthy if it’s something that feels worthwhile. Right now I feel very fortunate to be home with my kids. I feel so lucky, and I’m just taking advantage of that.

Her Cuban father still doesn’t speak English, despite living in LA: “Yeah, my father is like 70-something. It’s not happening. It used to frustrate me, and now I think it’s really cute… it’s cool, exactly. That’s a good sign of the times, isn’t it? When I was younger, and me and my mom would go to the mall, she would be speaking in Spanish, and I’d be embarrassed. I was 12 or 13 years old at that time, and all I wanted to do was fit in. Anything that made me different, I didn’t want to embrace, which is the opposite now. And hopefully as you get older, you realize that your quirks and what makes you different are the things to celebrate. Cut to now, I’m just like, Mami, como se hacen los frijoles así? I’m just so proud of my whole culture, of where I come from. I wish I’d had that insight when I was 13. I fought it for a while, for sure.

Infusing her home with Cuban influences: “We’re constantly playing Cuban music. I speak to them in Spanish, and my mom speaks to Esmeralda in Spanish. Well, now she speaks to both of them in Spanish. Any time I have an opportunity to introduce her or them—I have to say “them” now, though my newborn just sleeps all the time—to my culture, whether it’s through music, or through food, I do. That is a main priority, for sure.

Losing her brother Carlos & giving birth to Amada Lee: “Losing my brother brought our family closer, and we were already close to begin with. So to just see everybody be there for one another and show up, I feel so lucky to have them. And then they were there for me when Amada was born. We had a funeral service for him and that same week I had the baby. So it was really, really intense and obviously beyond heart-breaking, but also kind of beautiful. And being totally honest, I don’t feel like I’ve really processed that yet.

Why both of her daughters have the name Amada: “My grandmother’s name is Amada, and Esmeralda Amada is the name of our oldest. We had a few names picked out for our new baby, and when she was born, we didn’t feel like those names were her. We came up with a few more, even that morning, and tried them out. We were like, “What about Viviana?” But we just kept going back to Amada. In true Latin fashion, we reuse names all the time. I used to know five sisters that were all Maria del Carmen, Maria Elena, Maria Liliana….I actually told Ryan, “This is common in Latin culture, so it wouldn’t be crazy.” So we went with Amada because it was something we kept going back to. And it was an emotional time with the passing of my brother. We thought how beautiful to go with what made us emotional and with what felt like her. When we looked at her, we thought, “Aww, Amadita.” And my mom’s name is Eva. We even thought about Eva III. And we were like, “You know what? Maybe that’s a bit much.”

[From Latina]

I often get the feeling that Ryan Gosling is just surrounded by feminine energy – more specifically, Cuban-feminine energy – as soon as he walks into his house. Eva has made consistent references to how her mom and her sisters are always helping with the babies, so much so that I would bet that Eva, her mom and her sisters are constantly in Eva and Ryan’s home. Plus, the two baby girls. But Ryan seems fine with it? He probably even likes it.

As for the name thing… I guess that makes sense. I’m fine with people reusing the same name for two kids, but I do wonder if Amada Lee is going to wonder why she couldn’t have her own name separate from Esmeralda Amada.


Photos courtesy of Latina Mag.

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40 Responses to “Eva Mendes’s ‘main priority’ is raising her daughters with Cuban influences”

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  1. OSTONE says:

    My future kids, if hubby and I have them, would be half Latinos too. And I would want to incorporate both cultures as much as possible, and truly teach them to speak English, Spanish and any other languages they want! Multiculturalism is awesome!

  2. Brea says:

    This was a nice interview ! I really liked what she said about wanting to fit in with the mold as a teen and now finally embracing her culture.

    • HH says:

      Came here to say the same thing. She comes off really well in this interview. Very down to earth.

  3. MissMerry says:

    so I once knew a girl we called Kylie, but her birth name was Kyle (named after a family member). I only found this odd because she had an older brother…and the parents didn’t name HIM Kyle, they named their daughter Kyle…

    families are funny.

    • Sarah says:

      My parents had a daughter first but had a boy’s name picked out for her in case.
      They then had a son but chose a different name for him…
      For baby three (a girl), they had the same original boy’s name chosen…
      And I am 4th (a girl) and they also had that same boy’s name waiting for me…

      Maybe they liked it in theory, not practice 😛

  4. Lily says:

    For some reason I thought she was Puerto Rican

  5. savu says:

    Just for the record, I LOVE her NY&Co. line. I get an allowance for clothes (I’m a local news anchor) which isn’t huge, and viewers still expect us to switch it up often and not repeat clothes within two weeks, etc. Her line is inexpensive when bought on sale and so much of it is really flattering to the body. Then there’s the hippie boho stuff, which not so much. But I have quite a few of her pieces I wear allllllllllll the time!

  6. Locke Lamora says:

    I really respect what she’s doing. I know so many people who went to Germany as gastarbeiters in the 70s, but stayed, and when their kids come to vacation here, they don’t speak our language, or speak it very poorly which is so sad. You should never forget your culture.

  7. Hadleyb says:

    It’s cute her father never learned English? What??

    • Nic919 says:

      It’s not cute and means that he can’t communicate to outsiders without her help. It’s one thing to not be very strong in the new language but if you don’t know it at all, then your kids have to deal with the outside world for you.

      I am bilingual and am not opposed to learning languages, but if you live in the US, you need to take ESL to be able to have a basic grasp of English.

    • Jegede says:

      It’s not cute at all.

    • celine says:

      Oh, that’s something very common in the Cuban culture, especially in Miami. A great percentage there refuse to learn English, and I had witnessed almost on a daily basis when I lived there, when they walk into a store demanding a Spanish speaking person. If one is not provided, walking out in a huff. I had so many arguments with strangers about this. I’m Cuban born, but I believe it’s a sign of disrespect refusing to learn the language of the country you’re coming to live in. I was born there, but feel absolutely no affiliation with that type of mentality.

      • Ennie says:

        I am Mexican and I can tell you that the same happens with many American ex-pats. They just do not need to learn the language because many people speak English to them, or mostly live in a community relating only to other ex- pats (English teachers or retired people), that They never make the effort.
        I think it happens everywhere.
        I had an aunt who never ever spoke English, she probably felt that she could not learn it, as she was older when she emigrated, while many of our relatives became integrated even to the point of hiding and being ashamed of people finding out they are Of Mexican descent . Two sides of the coin. Thankfully many of those relatives have found a balance, like Eva.

    • anna says:

      you’re right, it’s not cute at all. ignorance is never cute and he is very limited in his interactions. but i think all she was saying is that she is not stressing about it anymore and he is 70, so that ship has sailed.
      that said, i used to hang with lots of people from Argentina (in NY though) and i never understood how attached they are to their language. they wouldn’t let ONE single chance to speak spanish go by and often be rather rude by excluding whole groups of people from conversations. i mean, i would never just start speaking german in an international group, even if there is another german. it’s rude.

      • Ennie says:

        My sister in law is 100% German descent but born in my country. When her mom is present, they usually speak German among themselves and to the children,
        Even if we are present and don’t get a word. I guess they are trying to preserve the language practice for her daughters and grandchildren.
        The grandchildren (my nieces and nephews) speak mostly Spanish between themselves, while they listen to German. They will strengthen their roots if they visit Germany later on, I bet. The influence is thinning out.
        German communities (and some others, too) here in Mexico have tried hard to preserve their culture and language, even by creating private schools and clubs. In small cities they mix more, while in bigger cities or where there are bigger communities you see them all together not mixing much. Christian Lebanese or Jewish are expected to marry among themselves. Germans have mixed more, tho.

      • Minime says:

        I know a lot of German people who do the same and very quickly switch to German when in an international group…as long as they are the majority there. So it’s not a nationality dependent thing…some people are just rude and don’t care to do the effort…or maybe sometimes it’s easier to forget if you’re the majority. When people do that I tend to translate to others in English (when I can) just to make the point. Can be hilarious.

      • anna says:

        alright, maybe i have to adjust my opinion. i always felt like spanish-speakers are way more attached to their mother tongue than any other group.

    • Naya says:

      I’m sure he speaks enough to communicate the basics at least. She probably means he is not fluent and reverts back to his mother tongue. Some people have trouble learning new languages, especially when it comes a long after their formative years.

    • ohdear says:

      I would imagine there is a touch of resentment of the fact they (this generation of refugees from Cuba in particular) had to leave their culture – not towards the US, per se, but for the situation. Then you add to that the travel embargo that prevented families from returning to their culture and family left in their home country, and I understand the hyper-preservation of language and tradition. His decision also required his family to speak Spanish so they could communicate with him, which would also help keep the culture alive.

      My family lived in Mediterranean when I was younger – the Canadians and Americans definitely stuck together and spoke English. Us kids learned the language but our parents didn’t.

    • Momoftwo says:

      my parents came from Italy, and only had a 4th grade education, when they came here their priority was setting up a new life, work, family, and when both are working two jobs, raising a family, it’s kind of hard to find time to learn English, I would admire anyone for taking on a challenge like that

    • pikawho? says:

      Unless your heritage is 99.99% English, chances are your great great grandparents only spoke their native languages in the American communities they immigrated to. There are written accounts of Italian, Germans, Polish etc who lived in America for decades and died only able to speak a few English phrases. There were entire neighborhoods in New York where no one spoke English fluently, only the second and even third generations. I feel like you wouldn’t so bothered if Eva’s father was from somewhere else.

    • Sarah says:

      It’s easy to criticise him for this but millions of English native speaks live abroad without a grasp of the language of the country they live in. Privilege!

  8. mia girl says:

    Totally understand the name thing.
    I am Cuban-American and my sisters and I all have the same middle name – Maria.

  9. jeanpierre says:

    I love the names they picked for their daughters.

  10. kori says:

    My friend is a German citizen (or was–he’s a U.S. one now) and he married a U.S. service member. He speaks to their son in german and his wife speaks in English. And he goes to a preschool here in Belgium so you can add French. Kids pick up languages much easier than adults so if you can get them learning young it’s great.

  11. QQ says:

    Aw that was sweet, reminds me of my Niblings which all have to know how to ask for food in Spanish to get fed by Abuela as well as the meaning of ” Vamonos” and ” No seas ATREVIDO/A” the best is that they always text me ( in their little Ipods to wish me a Nice day and talk crap about one another (They are 9 &10 I die every time)

    • Bohemianmartini says:

      Lol. I hear that…no azucar on your avena if u couldn’t ask for it in Spanish. We learned real quick.

  12. Ann says:

    Like her lot but why do they have women pose with their mouths open always? It doesn’t look great, does it?

  13. outoftheshadows says:

    Amada means “loved” in Spanish, I believe, so that’s a wonderful legacy to leave to both babies.

  14. TyrantDestroyed says:

    I am Latina and growing up I used to have classmates and friends who had the same parent’s name or they repeated the same name between siblings. Is fairly more common with men, carrying the father’s name.
    Having my grandmother’s name and my husband, who has his grandparent’s names because is his country is also a tradition, we don’t feel like preserving this practice and if one day we have kids so we will give them their own names.

  15. Cupcake says:

    She just sounds like a normal lady, not a celebrity at all. I appreciate that she does not profess to be an expert on motherhood but just talks about her hopes for her daughters. I am SO sick of the celebrities who have a newborn and bombard social media with pictures and musings about motherhood. Breath of fresh air! Finally a celebrity who is actually putting her children first and not using them to drum up more attention on public social media!

    • manta says:

      That was a big plus for me too. Yeah a celeb mom who acknowledges that having babies doesn’t automatically makes you an expert whose advices are sought for.
      I also like the fact that she stays away from red carpets if she has nothing to promote. We have enough professional enveloppes openers around.

  16. Bohemianmartini says:

    Mexicana here. This was a great interview. I totally get wanting to fit in. It’s funny… The older I get – the more I cling to the traditions and practices I grew up with. And I love the recycled names. We have 4 variations of my ‘buelos name alone in my immediate (and small family). As a parent – I wanted to give my daughter a name that was beloved and meaningful, while paying tribute and showing respect to my family. It’s not for everybody but it works for my family.

    • Saks says:

      Eso mismo le pasa a mi prima que está creciendo en Estados Unidos. She is now a proud Mexican but it took her time, she had the sad experience of racism so she wanted to fit.

  17. Whiskeyjack says:

    She is just stunning to me. She sounds good here, I like Eva.

  18. pikawho? says:

    Its good that she’s teaching her kids about their heritage. I think a lot of Americans lash out in the form of racism/xenophobia because they have no sense of being part of something older than the US. No second language, no songs, no ethnic food etc It makes them angry to see people with a more immediate link to their culture.

    In other news, it will never stop amazing me how much she looks like Cindy Crawford and Raquel Welch!

  19. Sarah says:

    They’re both pretty names. If Amada doesn’t like sharing a name with her sister, she could go by Lee… or anything else really… Ama, Ada, Lea

  20. sara says:

    My older sister and I have the same middle name. Marie. And I hate it! I realize that it’s just a middle name but, I always felt like my parents didn’t really think of a name and they just gave up and gave me hers. I really never felt like it was my name. It was always a shared name. It also sucked that we all have the same first initial in our first name, so that me even made hate it more.

  21. MissW says:

    Maybe she loved the name as a second choice but didn’t know if she’d have a second daughter to be able to use it so she used it as a middle name for her first daughter. I guess that also means she likes the name Esmerelda more than Amada too.