No doubt she has stumbled along the way but Longoria is offering up a discussion. It may be time for the GOP grassroots to sit down with her.
Her role reaches beyond fundraising and speechmaking, however, and into policy and strategy. She helped urge Mr. Obama to make a key change in immigration policy last year, and she is teaming with business to explore investments in housing and retail developments in Hispanic communities.
Along the way she has developed a rapport with the president and his advisers. She is now planning meetings this weekend with the capital's elite, including private receptions at the White House and vice president's residence and a bipartisan brunch she is co-hosting at a Georgetown eatery this weekend with Mark McKinnon, a former strategist for George W. Bush and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. There, she plans to begin a Republican outreach by meeting with Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, and other attendees including Grover Norquist.
It is part of a broader strategy to build her personal brand within the nation's fastest-growing market. Ms. Longoria is modeling it on Bono's celebrity-to-political-activist transformation, and has hired one of the singer's advisers.
As she rises in prominence, Ms. Longoria is at risk of being seen as an Obama partisan rather than a policy advocate. "Half of my movie tickets and my products are bought by Republicans," says Ms. Longoria, who is also a spokeswoman for cosmetics company L'Oréal Paris and Lays potato chips.
She has had a few missteps along the way. In the heat of the presidential campaign, Ms. Longoria angered some of her Republican fans on Twitter. In October, she re-tweeted, or re-sent, someone else's message describing GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as "racist/misogynistic" and calling people who would vote for him "stupid."
She tried to delete it, but some of her nearly five million followers saw the message and objected. She followed up with apologies. "Sorry if people were offended by retweet. Obviously not my words or my personal view. I respect all Americans #FreedomOfSpeech," she wrote.
Ms. Longoria "is beginning to understand that she's at that critical point when she must decide whether to fight causes as an American, or a political partisan," says Bobby Turner, chief executive of Canyon Capital Realty Advisers, who is exploring Hispanic-community investments with her. To have the best chance at success, he says, "she will need bipartisan collaboration."