Keepin' it Spicy: FLAMIN' HOT Exclusive Interviews
Flamin’ Hot is a movie produced by DeVon Franklin, directed by Eva Longoria, and written by Linda Yvette Chavez. This is a story of encouragement surrounding a Mexican- American man named Richard Montañez and his rise in the Frito-Lay company. Richard Montañez started as a janitor, but when the economy was slowing down, he didn’t let his position prevent him from doing what was necessary to save his and others' jobs. As a result, he and his wife, Jane Montañez, created his vision for a snack marketed towards Hispanics. This became a great success due to Richard Montañez’s tenacity and became the Flamin’ Hot chips we enjoy today.
DeVon Franklin saw a light in Richard Montañez that made him want to bring his story to life. Franklin saw Montañez’s story as inspirational and inspiring. His passion for the story came from these two components, which motivated him to bring hope to everyone’s television. Those familiar with Franklin’s productions, such as Miracles from Heaven, know that his works typically involve religion and faith. While this film also has Christain beliefs, Franklin wants to get across that this film is a different experience from how the story is told to how it makes you feel after. Since this film is based on a natural person, Franklin wanted it to carry still the tone that Richard Montañez carried in his story. “Some of them were funny. Some of them were very tragic.” Rather than focus and base the film on faith, Franklin wanted the audience to experience Montañez’s journey in its fullest form. This was Franklin’s favorite part of the making of this film; being able to “bring this story to the world.”
When speaking with the producer, DeVon Franklin, it was clear to see the care and attention to detail put into the film. This care and attention can be attributed to not only being so moved by Montañez’s story after meeting him in 2017 but also the negative press surrounding the authenticity of the Flamin’ Hot story. Relevant Magazine put out a story in May of 2023 stating that they had sources that claimed Richard Montañez’s story was not wholly accurate. The article claims Frito-Lay has noted that this story is not true and that the idea for the snack came from a junior employee named Lynne Greenfeld. In response to my question about the importance of getting this story out despite negative press like this, Franklin states, “We believe in his story, and anyone that sees the movie will see how all of the things involving the creation of Flamin’ Hot work together in terms of what Richard's story is and what was happening in the Midwest.” He continues to state that it didn’t present a story challenge because we had already incorporated a lot of that information into the script.” Although this changed how everyone navigated around the press, it did not pose an issue with the story writing because they could find a balance. Franklin believed this movie was needed today to continue encouraging self-empowerment.
Not only did Franklin portray the familial aspect beautifully on screen, but he also incorporated that into the crew. When asked how it was to work with American actress, producer, and director Eva Longoria, Franklin portrays her directorial style as a visionary. He says she is an ambassador of goodwill to the entire crew. A nice easter egg in the movie is the cameo shot of Richard and Jane Montañez. This decision by Longoria added to that family togetherness and made the movie tender-hearted. After seeing the film for the first time, the Montañezs’ were so proud and still grasping that their story would forever be a historical monument. Not to mention this is the first movie to go out on Disney Plus and Hulu, making it a historical event in two ways.
Linda Yvette Chavez also comments on the gratitude she feels about being able to be working with other people of color. From the producer to the director to the fantastic cast, it feels like a triumphant moment for all of them. The story is about someone from humble beginnings, which relates to all of them. Chavez relates explicitly to the Montañez boys learning to code-switch and using their voices to be seen. Hearing these stories and linking to them made this story so significant. Chavez wanted these stories to be told about her community and has put so much work into this scripting.
Don't miss out on Flamin' Hot, coming to Hulu and Disney+ on June 9th. Check out our exclusive interviews with producer Devon Franklin and writer Linda Yvette Chavez below.
Devon Franklin Interview:
Linda Yvette Chavez Interview: