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Spike TV's 5th Annual 2011 Guys Choice Awards - Re
“I was a late bloomer … it saved me,” Mendes said. / Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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Her glam roles have earned her comparisons to Sophia Loren. Eva Mendes, 38, shows a grittier side as a distracted single mom in the new comic drama Girl in Progress.

Best advice from a star: “When we made Hitch, Will Smith showed me the importance of making (fans) feel special. He said, ‘If you go to Brazil, learn how to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you.’ He taught me to be gracious.”

Early ambition: “When I was 5, I wanted to be a nun. A few years later, my sister told me nuns don’t get paid.”

Surprising talent: “I don’t cook, but I can really set a table. I’m good at layering different tablecloths. Not only do I use flowers and candles, but I add ornaments. I personalize each setting. I love fabrics.”

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