Eva Longoria laughs when asked about the toughest challenge she faced when shooting “Flamin’ Hot,” her feature film directorial debut about Richard Montañez, the man largely credited with the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
“The New Mexico heat,” Longoria says of shooting for five months in the Southwestern state. “So hot! There were days the asphalt melted underneath our camera trucks.”
Kidding aside, she says, “I think probably the greatest challenge was making sure we stayed true to the theme of the movie, which is opportunity is not distributed equally. And when that happens, you have to work twice as hard and twice as long and be twice as good. And you still have to persevere and the story is so many things. It’s rags to riches, it’s American dream 101, it’s about perseverance, it’s about the underdog. But at the end of the day, it’s also about one person’s perspective and struggle within themselves. So it’s a beautiful, beautiful biopic.”
Controversy erupted earlier this year when a Los Angeles Times story claimed that Montañez exaggerated his involved in the invention of the snack. In the wake of the report, Montanez told Variety, “I was their greatest ambassador. But I will say this — you’re going to love your company more than they will ever love you. Keep that in perspective.”
Longoria stands by Montañez. “I was operating from a place of authenticity and making sure I represented not only the story of Richard Montañez and the biopic that we were trying to do, but the Mexican-American community at large and making sure we represented in culture, in casting, in food, in the music,” she says.
I caught up with Longoria for this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. She also talked about one of her most recent new business ventures—co-founding Casa Del Sol tequila earlier this month. The company is primarily female-run. “My mission has always been, whether it’s in my production company or my philanthropy…it’s to uplift the voices of women and celebrate them,” Longoria says. “This particular team, it’s not solely women, but I love highlighting the women who are playing a pivotal role to encourage others in the space to do the same.”
Longoria’s favorite tequila drink? “A Mexican mule, which is a Moscow mule with tequila,” she says.
On a more serious note, Longoria expressed her disappointment and outrage over her home state of Texas’ new abortion laws. “I think it’s so hypocritical that Republicans are saying, ‘No mask, my body’ or ‘No vaccine, my body.’ But you’re going to control my body? It’s so hypocritical and so unfair and so disappointing,” she says. “And if we don’t pay attention, it’s only going to get worse. I need people to wake up in Texas and really stand up for human rights because that’s what this is, an infringement. And not only that, voting rights is next. The redlining, the gerrymandering, the redistricting, all of that’s next after the census. And so it’s really going to affect communities of color. It’s already hard enough to vote and to make it even harder for communities of black and brown people, is unfair.”