Eva Longoria: “I Feel Very Proud to Tell Latino Success Stories”
Eva Longoria takes on another challenge in her career. After enjoying success as an actress and producer, Eva went behind the camera to direct her first film, Flamin’ Hot.
The film tells the story of Mexican American Richard Montañez, who, as a janitor at Frito Lay, discovers the perfect formula to give a spicy touch to one of their products called Cheetos Flamin’ Hot, inspired by his Mexican roots.
Producer DeVon Franklin learned about this story of overcoming obstacles. After Richard shared the story with him, DeVon told Eva, and they both sought ways to secure the necessary financing to turn it into a movie.
That’s how Fox Searchlight Studios provided the support to bring the inspiring tale to the screen. Flamin’ Hot can also be seen on the Hulu and Disney+ platforms.
Previously, Eva directed television series, documentaries and short films such as Gorditas Chronicles (2022), La guerra civil (2022), Why Women Kill (2021), The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia (2020), Grand Hotel (2019), Jane the Virgin (2016), Telenovela (2016), Devious Maids (2014) and A Proper Send Off (2011), among others.
Now, after several years of work, Flamin’ Hot premiered at the 22nd edition of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF). The event was held at the legendary TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) in Los Angeles, where we had the opportunity to talk with Eva and several special guests, including the festival’s founder, Edward James Olmos.
As Edward, the director and two-time Golden Globe-winning actor (for The Burning Season and Miami Vice) said, it was a great pleasure to open the festival with Eva’s film. “She is an exemplary woman, a woman who has fought in her career to make a name for herself in this difficult industry and she has succeeded. Richard’s story is the story of many Latinos who succeed in this country and it needs to be told to the world.”
Edward added, “Eva and her team did an extraordinary job and I congratulate them. Hopefully, we can see more stories like Richard’s on the screen, stories that inspire and help the community.”
The premiere was also attended by the cast, including Annie González, Jesse García, Pepe Serna, Bobby Soto, Emilio Rivera, Fabián Alomar, Vanessa Martínez, Eric Marq and Alejandro Marín. Also present were producer DeVon (Miracles from Heaven, 2016) and writers Linda Yvette Chávez (Gentefied, 2020) and Alejandro Montoya (The Wrong Guy, 2022).
The film was very well received by the audience. At the end, the audience stood up and applauded for several minutes.
In our red-carpet interview, Eva expressed her fulfillment in taking on this project.
How do you feel after directing Flamin’ Hot?
It’s an honor to direct this film about the story of a man I greatly admire, Richard Montañez. It’s an inspiring and very real story and I wanted to share it with the world.
This premiere is taking place at a festival that meant a lot to you at the beginning of your career in Hollywood.
Yes, I remember that when I arrived in Los Angeles, I would come to the festival to watch all kinds of movies. I loved spending time here. Now, presenting this film in this place is wonderful. I am very happy. I’ve been crying all day because of the premiere of the film, which we made for all of you.
When I came to this festival 20 years ago, I never thought that one day, I would be here with a film, presenting it. It was a dream I didn’t know I had and I thank Eddie Olmos for making it possible.
Why do you think it’s important to tell Latin stories in Hollywood for everyone to see?
Yes because it’s a very important story. And although it’s a Latino story, it’s also a very universal story that everyone can understand.
So, when people tell you, “No, this opportunity is not for you because you’re Latino, because you speak Spanish, because you have an accent,” like what happened to Richard Montañez, who faced many obstacles like those, you know that he managed to overcome them. When you watch the movie, you say, “Wow! If this man achieved all this, I can also do things in my life.”
What would you say to the audience, especially the Latino audience, about why it’s crucial to watch the film?
It’s very important that our community supports this film, this project because if it doesn’t succeed, studios and networks won’t produce more of these. It depends on our community to show them that this kind of film works, that they like these kinds of stories, the cast, the writers and the director.
While it’s important to see our people in front of and behind the camera, it’s also important for the audience to respond because if not, we have a problem.
Translated by Mario Amaya