Eva Mendes on Having a Funeral and a Baby in the Same Week: It Was ‘Beyond Heartbreaking – But Also Beautiful’

08/02/2016 at 03:45 PM ET

Eva Mendes is opening up for the first time about losing her older brother Carlos to cancer and giving birth to her second daughter — now 3-month-old Amada Lee — with partner Ryan Gosling just 12 days later.

“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,” Mendes, who celebrated her 42nd birthday in March, says in Latina magazine’s September issue.

“And then they were there for me when Amada was born,” she continues. “We had a funeral service for [Carlos] and that same week I had the baby. So it was really, really intense and obviously beyond heartbreaking, but also kind of beautiful.

“Being totally honest, I don’t feel like I’ve really processed that yet,” Mendes adds.

Eva Mendes Latina Magazine September 2016 Main
Diego Uchitel

Want all the latest pregnancy and birth announcements, plus celebrity mom blogs? Click here to get those and more in the PEOPLE Babies newsletter.

Mendes — who first met Gosling, 35, on the set of their film The Place Beyond the Pines — also shares 22-month-old daughter Esmeralda Amada with the actor. And Mendes says there’s a good reason both her daughters bear the name Amada.

“My grandmother’s name is Amada,” she explains. “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,” she continues, adding jokingly, “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 …

“And it was an emotional time with the passing of my brother,” Mendes says. “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.’ ”

Eva Mendes Latina Magazine September 2016 Main
Diego Uchitel

The Miami-born Circa Beauty Creative Director, who has also released a collection with New York & Company, touches on the importance of exposing her daughters to her Cuban culture while providing a balance of her American upbringing.

“We’re constantly playing Cuban music. I speak to them in Spanish, and my mom speaks [to both girls] in Spanish. Any time I have an opportunity to introduce [them] to my culture, whether it’s through music or through food, I do. That is a main priority, for sure,” she says.

“I have the best of both worlds. I feel completely Cuban and completely American at the same time,” Mendes adds. “I’m so thankful to my mother for coming to the States and risking it all and giving us this opportunity.

“I really connect with both cultures, and that’s rare. That’s a gift that she gave me and all of us.”

As far as how motherhood is going for the star, who will appear in Fast 8 next year, she says her experiences in raising her two young children is a “really, really special time.”

“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,” she says.

Mendes, who is currently at home with her daughters, is grateful for the opportunity to do so.

“I think it can be very, very healthy [to take on a work project] if it’s something that feels worthwhile,” she says. “Right now I feel very fortunate to be home with my kids. I feel so lucky, and I’m just taking advantage of that.”

And what would a worthwhile project feel like for Mendes?

“I think like such a mom now — big picture — as far as what I’m putting out there,” she confesses. “Not only for my children, but for other children.”

Jen Juneau

FILED UNDER: Eva Mendes , News , Parenting

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 26 comments

All good on

Not only is Eva Mendes beautiful, she is intelligent. She has class in that she is scrutinizing further projects with her children in mind. She does not have to explain nude selfies and disrespectful pictures and behavior to her girls. A lot of ladies in the Hollywood industry, reality and non reality could take valuable lessons from her. Her privacy in regards to her children and her marital status or possible lack thereof deserves respect as well. She can entertain yet keep you out of her business. Go Eva!

Allyoop on

Always loved the name “Esmeralda”, but never brave enough to actually use it for my Daughter…lol

Mo-Jo on

Now THIS is a class act. You go girl! From keeping family first and loving what she’s doing (out of social media) to having a supportive husband/Baby Daddy . . she knows she’s struck gold. It’s a beautiful thing to read an article like this. Ryan also knows he chose a winner. He’s commented before on how lucky he is to have found Eva. I’m pulling for these two and their very blessed daughters.

Kristen on

What a beautiful woman – inside and out.

craig dobson on

Eva if only you were as tall a Cindy Crawford you might have made the volleyball team in high school; let me ask you, would you give up a million out of your account for every inch you could grow.

Mikey Mic on

Love her personality even though I don’t find her to be at all attractive… Because I know someone who looks like her, I pictured her being a bit loose to make up for her lack of attractiveness ( just my opinion) but I see she’s a classy lady.

Alanis on

No, seriously she’s gonna be in fast 8!! Gotta tell the homies…. bye!

gabriella on

I really think Eva Mendes is a class act! What I can’t understand is why she doesn’t get married. My parents didn’t get married and it was so confusing when I was at school, at activities, whatever. How do you introduce each other. Yes, they were common-law but it’s just not the same. I know it’s only a piece of paper but for the children’s sake , I feel she should get married.

max on

She is so strikingly beautiful. And an interesting person. Being with Gosling, she’s chosen well – he’s smart, thoughtful, talented and handsome. He’s also Canadian, don’t forget to slip that in there when talking about the children’s culture! He’s half of their heritage.

P. Downs on

She is beautiful and thoughtful person. I love her.

mertie funk on

Don’t forget also, Ryan is Canadian

Joga on

She used a surrogate for her 2nd baby. Sorry she had to bury her brother the same week the surrogate had her and Ryan’s baby, no need to lie.

Mimi on

Joga, who cares??? When are we going to stop shaming people for how the create their family? It’s no wonder that some women feel the need to keep their fertility issues a secret.

yummy on

I think she is a wonderful person, congrats to her on her two daughters.

Marky on

Joga, what are you basing that comment on? There is nothing I’ve heard or seen that would make me think she wasn’t pregnant with her own child. There is always someone claiming every celebrity “used a surrogate”! What the what?? Unless she herself says she used a surrogate, I’ believe she had her own baby!! She is a lovely person, and it sounds as if they are happy and doing well.

Anonymous on

I think she gave birth to her daughter Amada . I remember seeing pics of her looking very pregnant . I guess I could be wrong . Anyway congratulations to this awesome family and sorry to hear about the loss of her brother . That’s a very emotional time for the whole family .

Tammy on

Eva looks great in the picture.

Aug 3 on

I don’t think I could add anything more than what “All Good” has said below. As non-celebrities, we never truly get to know the people that we watch in the entertainment business. We base our feelings on what we read in articles and/or seeing them on a talk show. Eva certainly sounds like she would be a nice friend to have.

Lind_Marra on

@Joga Please… that’s the new angle for the haters? First of all before you go rumbling about surrogates. No that there is a gestastial carrier and a traditional surrogate which are two different things. Also if you are going to accuse someone of something you better have proof. Always trying to make someone appear less than who they are with absolutely nothing to back it up makes you sound like an idiot. It seems the only one’s screaming “surrogate” are the ones with an agenda or the one’s who tried and failed to say she trapped him. If you don’t like something about this woman simply state it instead of being a conspiracy theorist masquerading exaggerated gossip as fact.

Miss_Cali on

To the people talking about including Ryan’s culture. She was being interviewed by a publication called Latina Magazine and was asked about her inclusion of her culture to her children. So she answered… I’m very sure Ryan and his family inpart his ubring on his children. If you think about it though who is best to impart that. What does Eva or her mother know of being Canadian. @Jojo That back handed sympathy reaks of jealousy and bitchy behavior. Your not fooling anyone with a brain. And you need proof of a statement like that… period. You sound like a conspiracy theorist… no need to lie!

Davina on

Beware of Gosling’s “HeyGirls” and their conspiracy theories lol😉

TuShae on

@Joga I wonder if you know the difference between a gestational carrier and traditional surrogate? Gestational carrier is a woman (age is unimportant/some mothers who are post menopausal carry children for their daughters) who carries a child that is genetically related to both parents, best qualification is a viable uterus that can sustain a pregnancy. A traditional surrogate is a woman of reasonable maternal age (ideal 35 and younger), has a proven record of healthy birth(s) to her own child(ren), who donates her egg to be combined with the potential fathers sperm or that of a donor and carries the child to term. Source: I was a GS for a few years and gave birth to 4 children for 2 couples and a single divorcee. I was also a TS to a gay couple (one of which is a close friend I grew up with). That said you claim of such in regard to Eva is unfounded and quite obviously comes in the form of back handed sympathy that only slightly shields your idiocy and jealousy… no need to lie! You are literally serving up a conspiracy theory based on what? Moving on… Good luck to Eva! Not a big fan, but I wish her and her family the best. Also blessings to them on the loss of a loved one.

Nani Oko on

@Joga First of all if a child is Eva and Ryan’s child and someone else carried it that would make that person a Gestational carrier not a surrogate smart ass. And if you knew this to be fact you wouldn’t be referring to that person as “the surrogant”. I’m guess ing this is the go-to response to no longer being able to convince yourself she tricked him into getting pregnant. You sound petulant and childish with your back handed sympathy “Sorry her brother died the same week…”. Take your troll ass somewhere else.

Farlo on

I’ll say this… this has got to be one strong chick. I really don’t know how she deals with her man’s obsessive fans in and out of the industry. All the imposed and orchestrated rumors about co-stars and exes chemistry etc I wouldn’t hold up quite so well and would have probably broken up with him by now just because. She’s a real one I’ll give her that and she’s got her own.

Oy on

I give her credits for her strength.

Qually on

Yup Ryan is from Canada!

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters