Salma Hayek-Jimenez was born on September 2, 1966 in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. After seeing “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” when she was 5 years old, Salma decided she wanted to become an actress. Since her parents wanted her to be well-educated, they sent Salma to a Louisiana boarding school when she was 12. She didn’t stay for long as she got expelled for pulling pranks at the nuns and was sent to an aunt in Houston. Salma lived there until the age of 17. After some time on a college in Mexico, she dropped out and started working as an actress.
She landed her first role as Jasmine in Aladdin and His Marvelous Lamp at the local theater. A few years later she got the role as Theresa in the Mexican soap opera with the same name. After two years on the show, at the age of 24, she left the country to move to Los Angeles to pursue a movie-career. Salma went all by herself, with hardly no knowledge of the English language, “I came with the illusion that I knew enough English to get around”, she said, “it was a shocker when I moved here and couldn’t speak the language”. According to her, the only phrases she knew were “blue sweater in small” and “Ceasar-sallad with chicken in”. Salma discovered how hard it was to get a role as a latin actress in Hollywood at the time, and only got some small parts. When she didn’t went to auditions, she studied the English language.
She got her first roles in Hollywood in TV-series, guest-starring as a latin girl. In 1993, Salma got a part in Mi Vida Loca thanks to her determination after auditioning for 4 months. After that, she got roles in smaller movies such as Roadracers and El Callejón de los milagros as well as a role in the TV-series The Sinbad Show. Salma didn’t get her first big role until being cast in Desperado in 1995 after director Robert Rodriguez caught her appearing on a talk show. After playing opposite Antonio Banderas in Desperado, Salma got more job-offers and she got a part in another movie directed by Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk ’till Dawn. She played the role as Santanico Pandemonium opposite big names such as George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis.
From Dusk Till Dawn
In 1997 she starred in four movies, Fools Rush In as Isabel Fuentes Whitman, alongside Matthew Perry, Sistole Diastole as Carmelita, Breaking Up opposite Russell Crowe and the TV-movie “Hunchback” as the gypsy Esmeralda. By this time Salma started to get recognized as an actress and she landed roles in bigger movies. In 1998 she played opposite Ryan Philippe, Neve Campbell and Mike Myers in 54, Thomas Jane and Ethan Hawke in The Velocity of Gary and Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Famke Janssen, Famke Janssen and Usher in The Faculty. With the year of 1999, Salma’s star kept rising with roles in Dogma and the western-comedy Wild Wild West. The same year, her production company “Ventanarosa” produced the Mexican film No One Writes to the Colonel, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and selected as Mexico’s official Oscar entry for best foreign film.
Salma kept getting parts in Hollywood-movies such as Timecode, Chain of Fools, Traffic and Hotel. She even starred and produced in the critically acclaimed In the Time of the Butterflies, which won her an ALMA award as best actress. Though her acting skills was never as good as her performance in Frida, a movie produced “Ventanarosa”. The film was about the legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whom Salma had been admiring her entire life. She was nominated Best Actress by the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards and Golden Globe Awards, to name a few, for the role. The movie, starring Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina, Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, Edward Norton and Valeria Golino, recieved 6 Oscar-nominations and won 2 of them, “Achievement in makeup” and “Achievement in music written for motion pictures” for the original score by Elliott Goldenthal. With the success of Frida, Salma was finally being seen as a serious actress.
Salma reprised her role as Carolina in final movie of the Desperado-trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, in 2003. She starred opposite Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, Eva Mendes, William H. Macy and Enrique Iglesias. The same year she directed the movie The Maldonado Miracle, which premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. A year later she starred in the action-movie After the Sunset opposite Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris.
In 2004, she started working on a romantic drama starring Colin Farrell, titled Ask the Dust, as well. It actually took the writer and director Robert Towne 30 years to find the people he wanted for the movie. When talking about her role she said “all I want is a green card – and love”. About the collaboration with Colin Farrell, Salma said “in the beginning I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, except the cursing” about his accent. In 2005, Salma was still working on the movie, as well as two more – Bandidas, opposite best friend Penélope Cruz and Lonely Hearts alongside John Travolta, James Gandolfini and Jared Leto, which premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. Salma and Penélope said “we’ve been friends for seven years and been looking for a project to do together, but never found the right thing. But now we’re having so much fun and enjoying every minute. We’ve been wating for this moment for a long time.” and when describing their on-screen relationship Salma said “we have a very different dynamic that is very fast and I think will make the movie very exciting”.
Continuing her producing work, Salma did as an executive producer in the ABC TV-series Ugly Betty, which premiered to great ratings in the fall of 2006. The story, which is based on the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty, La Fea, is about Betty, a girl from Queens with no fashion-sense, who works as the assistant of Daniel Meade at one the the largest fashion magazines in the US – Mode. The show was a huge success and both fans and critics loved the show. In late October, Salma announced that she would guest star in a couple of episodes as the runner of the M.Y.W magazine, Sofia Reyes. Ugly Betty won two awards at the Golden Globe Awards in 2007 for “Best cast in a comedy or musical series” and America Ferrera won “Best actress in a comedy or musical” for her role as Betty Suarez. America came to win lots of more awards, including a SAG Award, Emmy Award and nominations for both a Golden Globe and SAG Award for Betty in 2008 and 2009 as well. Betty is currently in it’s third season and still going strong for the ABC network.
On March 9, 2007, Salma shocked the world when it was announced that she was engaged – and expecting a baby! The lucky man was Francois-Henri Pinault, a French billionaire whose father runs PPR, a company specializing in retail shops and luxury brands. PPR owns brands such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Puma. The very anticipated baby was born on September 21, 2007, to the very excited parents. The baby-girl was given the name Valentina Paloma Pinault. After giving birth to her first child, Salma kept a very low profile until her publicist released the very first photo of Salma with her daughter (the photo can be seen to the right).
On October 12, 2007, the Beatles-inspired musical Across the Universe premiered. Once again, Salma worked with director Julie Taymor (who directed Frida), as she has a small role as six singing nurses in the movie.
Salma’s pregnancy delayed the shooting of the movie Keep Coming Back, directed by actor William H. Macy. The movie now has no set cast but actress Milla Jovovich is rumored to have taken over the role.
Ms. Hayek filmed the family horror/drama Cirque Du Freak in February 2008, it was announced in early January the same year. Salma will portray the bearded lady in the movie which centers around a young boy named Darren Shan who meets a mysterious man at a freak show. The man, Larten Crepsley, turns out to be a (good) vampire. After a series of events Darren must leave his normal life and go on the road with the Cirque Du Freak and become a half-vampire. The movie is due for release October 23, 2009.
Salma was supposed start to shooting the romantic comedy/musical La Banda in late 2008, the first Spanish-language job in Mexico for Salma since she starred in Mexican telenovelas, in 2007. The movie is about a wealthy housewife who falls on hard times when her husband leaves. She takes a job as a singer for a wedding band while keeping her involvement secret from her high-society friends and family, but it becomes a tricky balancing act as the band gains in popularity. Salma was reported to do her own singing for the movie, but the film has since been put into a hitaus for the moment.
In January, Salma became for the Pampers/UNICEF campaign against tetanus. “I have long been a supporter of every child’s right to health and happiness. As a new mother, I’m thrilled to help Pampers and UNICEF raise awareness of their initiative to provide tetanus vaccines to those at risk.” Tetanus is a medical condition characterized by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibers. Tetanus bacteria breed in soil and can infect babies at the moment of birth in unsanitary conditions, often through the umbilical cord. Death is swift and painful. So Hayek partnered with UNICEF in hopes of wiping out the scourge, blamed for the deaths of 140,000 babies and 30,000 mothers each year, by 2012. Salma took a trip to Sierra Leone in October to take part in an vaccination drive against the disease and personally witnessed the horrible affects of the condition, “I had no idea how much it was going to really personally move me … to actually see it.” said Salma at a press conference. For each specially-marked pack of Pampers diapers sold through year-end, Procter & Gamble has pledged to donate a vaccine. Three doses of the life-saving vaccine, along with the syringes, cost just $1.80, “less than a cup of coffee.” said UNICEF expert Francois. Salma was paid an undisclosed amount by Procter & Gamble, part of which she was contributing to UNICEF. Salma has worked on behalf of several orginizations in the past several years. She is highly active in raising awareness about violence against women and discrimination against immigrants, and since the birth of her daughter last year, has added campaigns helping children to her list of charity works. She even founded the Salma Hayek Foundation a few years ago. Learn more about Salma Hayek’s causes here.
In late 2008, Salma Hayek was tapped by Tina Fey to guest star on an episode of her hit comedy 30 Rock. After filming her first episode and having such a great time she was asked back for another episode; and again, and again. Salma has filmed 5 episodes which begin airing January 7th and will continue to until the end of her character arc. She plays Elisa, a funny Puerto Rican nurse and the love interest of Alec Baldwin’s Jack. Salma told Conan O’Brien on a guest appearance in early 2008 that she is considering a sixth episode.
The very talented and enchanting Mexican actress, producer, director, activist and mother has got the movie career she always wanted, portrayed one of her biggest idols, started her own production company, got an Oscar nomination and even the cutest babygirl! Who knows what she will do next?