Richard Montañez was a former gang member before becoming a janitor for Texas-based Frito-Lay. It was there that he leaned on his Mexican heritage to set the snack world on fire and ultimately became a vice president for multicultural marketing at the company.
“Flamin’ Hot,” a biopic of his life directed by Corpus Christi native Eva Longoria, is now available on Hulu and Disney Plus. Stars of the film Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez, as well as Longoria, spoke with Texas Standard about the film, emoting real people, challenges in Hollywood and the spicy Cheeto controversy. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: I have to ask Eva, I hear this comes from a place in your heart and your mouth. Is it true you were a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos junkie growing up in Corpus Christi?
Eva Longoria: Yes, I was. I love Flamin’ Hot. I grew up with them, actually. The first time I ate a regular bag of Cheetos, I thought something was wrong with my bag. I was like, “Oh, no, I got a bad bag.” So, you know, this is a multibillion dollar brand. It’s a number one snack in the world. So, you know, to be able to tell this story of the man behind the flavor is really exciting.
Texas Standard: Why was this so important to you? I understand when you first read the script that you were just floored. You had never heard this story before?
Eva Longoria: No. And I was really, you know, blown away that I hadn’t known the story. I was like, wait, “he’s Mexican-American, I’m Mexican-American.” And I immediately felt like I am Richard Montañez. I’ve been told no. I’ve been told opportunities aren’t for people like you or, you know, “you’re a girl. You probably shouldn’t do that.” And I thought, “what a universal story that everybody could learn from and relate to.”
Jesse, you play Richard Montañez in this film. You have some really, really funny parts here. Did you get a chance to meet Richard in person and sort of pick up on who the man is?
Jesse Garcia: Yeah, we got to hang out for a couple of hours before they flew me out to Albuquerque to start shooting the movie. And he’s a funny guy. He’s quirky and charming.
Eva Longoria: “Like me…”
Jesse Garcia: Like me. So it was an easy transition to drop into some, like, funny stuff.