"The illusion is that Hollywood is progressive,” said Flamin' Hot director Eva Longoria. “The reality is that we’re still far behind in equal representation."

Eva Longoria is speaking up about Hollywood's double standards. 

In March, the Desperate Housewives alum premiered her feature directorial debut Flamin' Hot at the SXSW Film Festival, where it took home an audience award. Now, Longoria is back on the festival circuit at Cannes, where she's candidly opening up about the pressures of making her first film. 

During her Women in Motion panel, Longoria revealed that she "felt the weight of my community" and "the weight of every female director." 

"We don't get a lot of bites at the apple," Longoria explained. Flamin Hot, about the Frito-Lay janitor who claims to have invented Flamin' Hot Cheetos, is one of very few Latina-directed studio films in the past few years. "My movie wasn't low budget by any means — it wasn't $100 million, but it wasn't $2 million. When was the last Latina-directed studio film? It was like 20 years ago. We can't get a movie every 20 years."

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Eva Longoria attends Kering Talks Women In Motion at Kering suite during 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2023 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Kering)
Eva Longoria at Cannes
| Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

For women, and women of color in particular, Longoria stresses that the margin of error is nonexistent. "The problem is if this movie fails, people go, 'Oh Latino stories don't work… female directors really don't cut it.' We don't get a lot of at-bats," she said. "A white male can direct a $200 million film, fail, and get another one. That's the problem." 

"The illusion is that Hollywood is progressive," Longoria added. "The reality is that we're still far behind in equal representation." 

While working on Flamin' Hot, Longoria felt she had to "work twice as hard, twice as fast, twice as cheap." But though she carried that "generational trauma" into the making of the film, Longoria refused to let it hold her back: "It fueled me. I was determined."

The TV star turned multi-hyphenate previously directed episodes of Jane the Virgin, Black-ish, Why Women Kill, and Grand Hotel, a series she also executive produces. Flamin' Hot tells the story of Richard Montanez (played by Jesse Garcia), the son of a Mexican immigrant who worked as a janitor at Frito Lay when he says he developed the idea for Flamin' Hot Cheetos, inspired by the flavors of his community. The spicy snack marked a huge turning point for the brand and eventually became a pop culture phenomenon.

When she heard of the project in development, Longoria was determined to helm the story, and imbue the inspirational tale with Latino characters who resemble her own family and community members. "I really felt that 'I'm the only one who can do this story,'" Longoria said. 

Flamin' Hot will be available to stream on Hulu and Disney+ on June 9, 2023.

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