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EXCLUSIVE: DeVon Franklin Stands By “Real Life Superhero” Richard Montañez “Flamin’ Hot” Story

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If we told you that one of the world’s favorite snacks, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, had an inspiring story behind it, would you believe us? Well, it does, and Flamin’ Hot, directed by Eva Longoria, and produced by DeVon Franklin, aims to bring that story to the world.

Flamin’ Hot tells the story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), a janitor at Frito-Lay who flipped the snack industry upside down when he used his Mexican heritage to help create the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto, saving the jobs of his co-workers when the industry was struggling.

As you can imagine, it’s a story of legend and led to Montañez being with the company for four decades. But Frito-Lay did raise some eyebrows when they disputed Montañez’s story in a LA Times article, casting doubt on the incredible story of one man’s persistence.

Flamin' Hot

Source: Searchlight Pictures / Flamin’ Hot

Cassius Life asked DeVon Franklin if Frito-Lays’ stance in the article hampered filming and whether they were involved in the film.

The LA Times Article “Wasn’t Balanced,” According to DeVon Franklin

“So prior to the LA Times article coming out, years before that, I had gone to Plano, Texas. I met with executives at Frito-Lay to really better understand the full story, and we had already incorporated a lot of what I learned in that meeting in the script,” Franklin begins.

“So when the LA Times article came out, it was more of a surprise that the article wasn’t balanced, not so much that the story of Flamin’ Hot was even beyond Richard. And so the movie, we tell that story, we show what Richard did, and we show what Frito-Lay was doing, and then we show where those two storylines converged. And ultimately, how we all have come to know what Flamin’ Hot has is because of Richard taking this product to his community,” he continued.

Richard is a living legend. He’s a real superhero…

Flamin' Hot

Source: Searchlight Pictures / Flamin’ Hot

Despite the company’s initial claims in the LA Times piece, Franklin revealed everything eventually smoothed over with people who participated in later releasing articles in support of Montañez’s story.

“So some people at Frito-Lay who participated in the LA Times article and then PepsiCo, the umbrella company, released two statements after that article in support of Richard. We have screened the movie for Frito-Lay,” Franklin told Cassius Life.

“They feel like we did a very balanced job in portraying the history of the Flamin’ Hot brand and Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. And they were sending product to our different screenings, and from what I can tell, they seem to be very proud of it. At the end of the day, it definitely portrays Frito-Lay and PepsiCo as a great company to work with and work for. They had the vision to support Richard’s vision. Richard worked at the company for 42 years.”

Flamin' Hot

Source: Searchlight Pictures / Flamin’ Hot

Richard Montanez Is A Real Life Superhero

“Yeah. It wasn’t like he was just there. No, he was there for 42 years. So that was one of the other things that, for me, I say, okay, but then when going back to the LA Times article, I’m like, “Well, this man worked at this company for four decades, so clearly he had some success and did a version of what he said he did because there’s no way you could be working at a company for 40 years and not be who you say you are.”

…it just made us more determined to get the movie made so we could tell the real story.

“And that was one of the disheartening things about the article. But it also was one of the things that made me passionate to tell this movie because the movie gets the story right, and the movie is a validation of who Richard is. Richard is a living legend. He’s a real superhero, one that anyone can look at in this movie and take pride and inspiration in his story. And so when all that happened, it just made us more determined to get the movie made so we could tell the real story.”

You can watch the entire, exclusive interview with DeVon Franklin above and stream Flamin’ Hot on HULU right now.

Photo: Searchlight Pictures / Flamin’ Hot

EXCLUSIVE: DeVon Franklin Stands By “Real Life Superhero” Richard Montañez “Flamin’ Hot” Story  was originally published on