Actress and producer Eva Longoria will direct Fox Searchlight's "Flamin' Hot," a biopic about Richard Montañez, the man who rose from janitor to PepsiCo executive after creating spicy Flamin' Hot Cheetos and who has subsequently become a role model for Latino entrepreneurial success.
Montañez, the son of a Mexican immigrant, grew up in a migrant labor camp in Southern California, where he lived in a one-bedroom apartment with his parents and his ten siblings.
Despite his humble beginnings, Montañez showed business acumen from a young age. On the first day of 3rd grade, his mom packed him a burrito for his lunch — a meal that marked him as different from his classmates.
“There I was with this burrito and with everyone staring at me. I put it back in my bag and hid it," Montañez wrote in his memoir "A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie."
He requested that his mom make him a bologna sandwich and a cupcake the next day, but instead, she sent him to school with two burritos: one for him and one for a friend.
And so marked the beginning of the young entrepreneur's side hustle of selling burritos for $0.25 each.
Montañez dropped out of school in the fourth grade, but his yen for innovation didn't end with his formal schooling. He took on a series of different jobs and while working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay plant in Rancho Cucamonga, California, he created the now-staple in the Cheetos brand.
After a broken machine on the Cheetos assembly line released a batch of plain — and ostensibly unusable — Cheetos, Montañez took the snacks home, where he sprinkled them with chili powder.
After testing the flavor with his family, Montañez pitched the idea to former PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico over the phone and was given two weeks to prepare a presentation to the executive suite.
Now, a motivational speaker and best-seller author, Montañez urges others to reach their fullest potential and not internalize limitations.
“Don’t take your position for granted, regardless of what that position may be,” Montañez wrote in his book. “CEO or janitor, act like you own the company.”
"Flamin' Hot" is one of several projects Longoria is currently working on. She's also attached to direct and produce "24/7", a workplace comedy, and will produce "My Daughter's Quinceañera," a film about an overwhelmed single father who's tasked with planning his daughter's milestone birthday. Most recently, Longoria starred alongside Eugenio Derbez in the live-action film "Dora the Explorer: City of Gold."
Earlier this month, Longoria joined more than 200 other Latino artists in signing a letter of support for Latino communities in the U.S. following the El Paso shooting and massive immigration raids in Mississippi.
“We will not be broken. We will not be silenced. We will continue to denounce any hateful and inhumane treatment of our community. We will demand dignity and justice,” the letter read.