Annie Gonzalez stars as Judy in the new film Flamin’ Hot. This film is the inspiring true story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia) who as a Frito-Lay janitor disrupted the food industry by channeling his Mexican-American heritage to turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from a snack into an iconic pop culture phenomenon.

Annie Gonzalez Interview

We sat down with Gonzalez to talk about her role as Judy Montañez, representation, and playing someone who is still alive.

Paying tribute to Judy Montañez

The last time we spoke to Gonzalez was while she was at Los Angeles Comic Con while touring with the cast of Gentefied. At the convention, the cast spoke in depth about the importance of representation and equity. We followed up with Gonzalez and asked her about her journey playing Mexican-American icon, Judy Montañez.

“It’s been a dream come true. I’m so fricking grateful. It’s been so fun to see the gradual growth in the bodies of work that we get to choose from. And I’m so grateful to be a part of so many of them.”

– Annie Gonzalez
(From L-R): Hunter Jones, Jesse Garcia, Brice Gonzalez, and Annie Gonzalez in FLAMIN’ HOT. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

We also asked Gonzalez about what it was like portraying a real-life character versus a fictional one, and what she found inspirational about her character.

“What I love about Judy – because she is a real person who I am friends with, and I absolutely adore – I love how grounded she is, how soft and how gentle. I feel like she’s such a plethora of so many things. And the one thing that comes to mind is the divine feminine aspect of her nature, you know?”

Gonzalez goes on to tell us about honoring the character in Flamin’ Hot.

“I feel like every project chooses you to challenge and/or change you. And I feel like this is no exception, playing someone who’s lived a life and who is still here on this playing field. You really have to put your ego to the side. I mean, with any project you do, but even more so, you know? It’s what is going to best serve the work and authenticate this story of this person who is here. You know? What’s going to help them feel seen and give them their full body of colors because they lived had lived in our living such a full life? How do I honor that?”

Authentic Representation

The costumes and the hair and make-up we found were really great. We wanted to know what it was like for Gonzalez to step back a couple of decades and explore all that. Gonzalez also told us that the hair and make-up on Flamin’ Hot were one of the best parts about playing this character. She said she was able to channel her mother and grandmother in these styles.

Jesse Garcia, Annie Gonzalez, and Hunter Jones in FLAMIN’ HOT. Photo by Emily Aragones. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

“Oh, my gosh, It was so much frickin’ fun. That’s honestly one of my favorite parts about curating and crafting a character because, I’m (sic) a good actress. I could do it, but I’m nothing without my hair, makeup, and styling team.”

– Annie Gonzalez

Gonzalez went on to say, “It was such a frickin blast. It was so much fun getting to go back into those decades and feel like I was like my dad or my mom… My mom had that orange-red ‘fro back in the day, and when I sent her a photo, she was like, okay.”

Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez, in FLAMIN’ HOT. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

About Flamin’ Hot

In Flamin’ Hot, director Eva Longoria tells the story of Richard Montañez, whose drive and dedication saw him rise up the ranks at Frito-Lay as he helped establish Flamin’ Hot Cheetos – the snack that disrupted the food industry and became a global pop-culture phenomenon. Montañez was born in an East Los Angeles barrio community to Mexican-American parents in the late 1950s. Montañez was gifted with a smart mind, an ambitious soul, and a dream for a better life. Flamin’ Hot is produced by DeVon Franklin and is directed by Eva Longoria. The film stars Jesse Garcia as Richard and Annie Gonzalez (Gentefied) as his wife, Judy.

You can stream Flamin’ Hot on Hulu and Disney+ starting June 9.