Eva Longoria jokes that she’s taking an extended vacation to get some rest after her whirlwind promotion of “Flamin’ Hot,” her feature film directorial debut. “I am going to sleep for about three months,” Longoria told me Thursday morning. “When I come up for air, I hopefully will know what I’m doing next.”
Joking aside, she said, “I will tell you it’s been very difficult. I’ve been sent many scripts already. I’ve been reading so much, but there’s nothing so far that has sparked in me the intense passion that I had for telling this particular story.
“I was asking my agent, ‘Do I have to feel this way about every story I want to direct? Because I haven’t felt it yet,’” Longoria continued. “He said that should be the bar.”
“Flamin’ Hot” tells the story of Richard Montañez, a Frito-Lay executive often credited with the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Since the film’s premiere launch on June 9 on Hulu and Disney+, it has become Searchlight Pictures’ most-watched streaming movie of all time, according to the studio. While Searchlight hasn’t released numbers, Longoria says she’s been following them closely. “I will say that it’s just so impressive how this movie is resonating across cultures,” she said. “It’s not just a Latino movie. It’s an underdog story, a perseverance story, a rags-to-riches story and American dream story. So when you see the territories and the reach, it’s really blown me away.”
When I caught up with Longoria over the phone, she was on the South Lawn of the White House, where she’ll join President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a screening of the movie Thursday night. Also in attendance will be the film’s stars Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, Bobby Soto and Brice Gonzalez, as well as producer DeVon Franklin, screenwriter Linda Yvette Chávez and songwriter Diane Warren.
In a press release touting the movie’s success, Searchlight presidents David Greenbaum and Matthew said in a joint statement Wednesday, “Just like we witnessed with the festival screenings, the audience response to the film on Hulu and Disney+ with this historic first dual platform release has been tremendous. And what better way to celebrate the extraordinary work of Eva, DeVon and the entire team than a screening at the White House for President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. A momentous occasion indeed!”
“Flamin’ Hot” premiered in March at SXSW in Austin. Since then, Longoria has headlined a massive publicity tour that has included screenings with the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, NextGen America, National Association of Latino Independent Producers, National Hispanic Media Coalition, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Poderistas and Latinx House.
“The community understands the impact that a film like this can have on their lives,” Longoria said. “They know that the media dictates our image in society. So when they see a film like this with a positive portrayal, with a great message, with amazing talent in front of and behind the camera, everybody’s eager to lift it up, because we don’t get a lot of bites at the apple.”
She also acknowledged the pressure she felt throughout the process. “We — female filmmakers, Latina filmmakers — don’t have the luxury of failing,” Longoria said. “I couldn’t afford to fail, and we carried that with us every day on set. Everybody was in the room with me directing that movie. I did not do it alone. That really lifted me up to show up as my best self to deliver the best movie.”