Eva Longoria Calls Directorial Debut 'Flamin' Hot' Film 'Emotional': 'I Don't Even Have Words'

"This script and story found its way to me and to my heart," Longoria tells PEOPLE at the premiere

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 10: Eva Longoria attends "Raising the Bar: Public-Private Partnerships, Unlocking Career Success" during the 2023 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW)
Eva Longoria. Photo: Nicola Gell/Getty for SXSW

Eva Longoria just celebrated the premiere of her directorial film debut, an experience she says made her "so emotional."

"I don't even have words. I'm so emotional right now. It's hard to do an interview," Longoria, 47, told PEOPLE on Saturday of Flamin' Hot at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas. "This is my home state, so to premiere this movie in my home state. The fact that it's Flamin' Hot, about a Mexican American who is a hero in our community, to bring his story to the big screen — It's an honor and beyond exciting."

The project follows the true story of Richard Montañez (played by Jesse Garcia), a Frito-Lay janitor who harnessed his Mexican American heritage to become a marketing savant. Flamin' Hot also stars Tony Shalhoub, Dennis Haysbert, Emilio Rivera and Annie Gonzalez.

Speaking with PEOPLE at the premiere, Montañez called the film "so incredible." Of the film, which Longoria shared a first look of with PEOPLE back in January, the Desperate Housewives star says she didn't set out to make a feature.

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"This script and story found its way to me and to my heart, and I was like, 'I have to tell this story.' I have such interest in all the themes that we explore in the movie: underdog story, rags to riches, adversity, and overcoming obstacles," she says. "All of those things that I was like — these are the themes I want to explore and this is the story I want to tell it through."

"At the same time, it's huge pop culture," Longoria added of her first feature film as a director after 12 years behind the camera for television. "It's one of those origin stories that makes you want to go buy the product. As opposed to, 'I'm never buying that again.' It's a beautiful origin story that you go, 'Wow.' You get really inspired and motivated to go, 'Why not me? I can.'"

As she previously revealed to PEOPLE, Longoria was "nervous about the responsibility I had to deliver a really great film in all aspects," but ultimately wanted to "give opportunities to other women and people of color behind the camera."

"We were never telling the history of the Cheeto. That would not be a very interesting movie," Longoria said earlier this year. "I'm doing the story of Richard Montañez, who happened to have a hand in creating the No. 1 snack in the world, which is a billion-dollar brand. Nobody knew this market better than Richard."

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"He's more known as the godfather of Hispanic marketing than the creator of Flamin' Hot Cheetos because he was the first person to go, 'You guys, we need to market differently to different cultures, to Hispanics, to African-Americans, Asian-American. Everybody appeals differently to different things. And this is what my community likes. And all I know is that my community is not being spoken to. So you guys should speak to them and they'll show up.' And he was right," she added.

The film will be available to stream on Hulu starting on June 9.

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