While the headline “Eva Longoria to Direct Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Movie” certainly poses a number of questions, dig a little deeper and this actually sounds like a great story. Deadline broke the news that Longoria landed the coveted job of directing Fox Searchlight’s biopic about Richard Montañez, a janitor working for Frito Lay who created the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos snack.
The son of a Mexican immigrant, Montañez came up with the idea for Flamin’ Hot Cheetos inspired by the flavors of his community, and his creation ended up revitalizing Frito-Lay and disrupting the food industry. Montañez struggled to understand English growing up and eventually dropped out of school, working odd jobs until he landed a job as a janitor at Frito-Lay in 1976 at the age of 18, turning to his wife to help him fill out the application as he was unable to read or write.
Montañez decided he was going to be “the best janitor Frito-Lay had ever seen” and set about making his presence known, taking pride in his work. He spent time in between shifts getting to know the company’s products and inner-workings, and he finally found the opportunity to take action when, in the mid-1980s, the company’s CEO issued a message to every employee to “act like an owner” in an effort to boost morale.
When tagging along with a Frito-Lay salesman to a convenience store in a Latino neighborhood, Montañez noticed all of the company’s products were plain, and were sitting on the shelf next to a bunch of flavorful Mexican snacks. This gave him the idea to create a Latino-inspired snack, and not knowing any better, he literally called the company’s CEO and pitched his proposal.
You can read more about Montañez’s true story in this great The Hustle article from 2017, but it’s clearly a fascinating and inspirational tale of perseverance and ingenuity that should make for a compelling feature film. Lewis Colick (October Sky) wrote the screenplay and Longoria will direct, and while it’s unclear how quickly this thing will get made, it’s one of the more fascinating in-development projects at the moment.