Salma Hayek

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6 mins read

Salma Hayek Pinault (born Salma Valgarma Hayek Jiménez) was born September 2, 1966 and is a Mexican and American film actress and producer.

She was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico. Her father, Sami Hayek Domínguez, is a Lebanese Mexican, hailing from the city of Baabdat, Lebanon, a city Salma and her father visited in 2015 to promote her movie Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. He owns an industrial-equipment firm and is an oil company executive in Mexico, who once ran for mayor of Coatzacoalcos. Her mother, Diana Jiménez Medina, is an opera singer and talent scout, and is a Mexican of Spanish descent. In an interview in 2015 with Un Nuevo Día while visiting Madrid, Hayek described herself as fifty-percent Lebanese and fifty-percent Spanish, stating that her grandmother/maternal great-grandparents were from Spain. Her younger brother, Sami (born 1972), is a furniture designer.

Hayek was raised in a wealthy, devout Catholic family, and at age 12 was sent to the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. In school, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. She attended university at the Universidad Iberoamericana where she studied International Relations. In a 2011 interview with V magazine, Hayek mentioned that she was once an illegal immigrant in the United States, although it was not for a long period of time. 

At the age of 23, Hayek landed the title role in Teresa (1989), a successful Mexican telenovela that made her a star in Mexico. In 1994, Hayek starred in the film El Callejón de los Milagros (Miracle Alley), which has won more awards than any other movie in the history of Mexican cinema. For her performance, Hayek was nominated for an Ariel Award.

In 1991 Hayek moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film career, and to study acting under Stella Adler, having limited fluency in English, and dyslexia. After taking a small part in the 1993 film Mi vida loca, she was noticed by director Robert Rodriguez and his co-producer and then-wife, Elizabeth Avellan, soon gave Hayek a starring role opposite Antonio Banderas in 1995’s Desperado. She followed her role in Desperado with a brief role as a vampire queen in From Dusk till Dawn, in which she performed an erotic table-top snake dance. 

Hayek had a starring role opposite Matthew Perry in the 1997 romantic comedy Fools Rush In. In 1999, she co-starred in Will Smith’s Wild Wild West. She also played a supporting role in Kevin Smith’s Dogma film as Serendipity. In 2000, Hayek had an uncredited acting part opposite Benicio del Toro in Traffic. In 2003, she reprised her role from Desperado by appearing in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the final film of the Mariachi Trilogy.

Around 2000, Hayek founded film production company Ventanarosa, through which she produces film and television projects. Her first feature as a producer was 1999’s El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba, Mexico’s official selection for submission for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

Frida, co-produced by Hayek, was released in 2002. Starring Hayek as Frida Kahlo, and Alfred Molina as her unfaithful husband, Diego Rivera, the film was directed by Julie Taymor and featured an entourage of stars in supporting and minor roles (Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd, Edward Norton, Geoffrey Rush) and cameos (Antonio Banderas). She earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her performance.

In the Time of the Butterflies is a 2001 feature film based on the Julia Álvarez book of the same name, covering the lives of the Mirabal sisters. In the movie, Salma Hayek plays one of the sisters, Minerva, and Edward James Olmos plays the Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo whom the sisters opposed.

In 2003, Hayek produced and directed The Maldonado Miracle, in December 2005, she directed a music video for Prince, titled “Te Amo Corazon” (“I love you, sweetheart”) that featured Mía Maestro.

Hayek was an executive producer of Ugly Betty, a television series that aired around the world from 2006 to 2010. Hayek adapted the series for American television with Ben Silverman, who acquired the rights and scripts from the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea in 2001. Originally intended as a half-hour sitcom for NBC in 2004, the project would later be picked up by ABC for the 2006–2007 season with Silvio Horta also producing.

Hayek guest-starred on Ugly Betty as Sofia Reyes, a magazine editor. She also had a cameo playing an actress in the telenovela within the show.

In April 2007, Hayek finalized negotiations with MGM to become the CEO of her own Latin-themed film production company, Ventanarosa. The following month, she signed a two-year deal with ABC for Ventanarosa to develop projects for the network.

Hayek played the wife of Adam Sandler’s character in the buddy comedy Grown Ups, which also co-starred Chris Rock and Kevin James. At his insistence, Hayek co-starred with Antonio Banderas in the Shrek spin-off film Puss in Boots as the voice of the character Kitty Softpaws, who serves as Puss in Boots’s female counterpart and love interest. In 2012, Hayek directed Jada Pinkett Smith in the music video “Nada Se Compara.” She reprised her role in Grown Ups 2, which was released in July 2013.

At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con it was announced that she will star as Ajak in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao. 

Hayek has been a spokeswoman for Avon cosmetics since February 2004. She was a spokeswoman for Revlon in 1998. In 2001, she modeled for Chopard and was featured in 2006 Campari ads, photographed by Mario Testino. On April 3, 2009, she helped introduce La Doña, a watch by Cartier inspired by fellow Mexican actress María Félix.

Hayek has worked with the Procter & Gamble Company and UNICEF to promote the funding (through disposable diaper sales) of vaccines against maternal and neonatal tetanus. She is a global spokesperson for the Pampers/UNICEF partnership 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine to help raise awareness of the program. The partnership involves Procter & Gamble donating the cost of one tetanus vaccination (approximately 24 cents) for every pack of Pampers sold. 

In 2008, Hayek co-founded Juice Generation’s juice delivery program Cooler Cleanse. In 2017, she and Juice Generation founder Eric Helms launched the beauty subscription delivery service Blend It Yourself, based on Hayek’s personal beauty elixirs. It supplies subscribers with the prepared organic frozen smoothie and acai bowl ingredients, some of which can also be applied as face masks. She also wrote the foreword to Helms’ 2014 book The Juice Generation: 100 Recipes for Fresh Juices and Superfood Smoothies

In 2011, Hayek launched her own line of cosmetics, skincare, and haircare products called Nuance by Salma Hayek, to be sold at CVS stores in North America. Hayek was also featured in a series of Spanish language commercials for Lincoln cars. 

Hayek’s charitable work includes increasing awareness on violence against women and discrimination against immigrants. On July 19, 2005, Hayek testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary supporting reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. In February 2006, she donated $25,000 to a Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, shelter for battered women and another $50,000 to Monterrey based anti-domestic violence groups. Hayek is a board member of V-Day, the charity founded by playwright Eve Ensler.

Hayek also advocates breastfeeding. During a UNICEF fact-finding trip to Sierra Leone, she breastfed a hungry week-old baby whose mother could not produce milk. She said she did it to reduce the stigma associated with breastfeeding and to encourage infant nutrition. 

In 2010, Hayek’s humanitarian work earned her a nomination for the VH1 Do Something Awards. In 2013, Hayek launched with Beyoncé and Frida Giannini a Gucci campaign, “Chime for Change”, that aims to spread female empowerment. 

For International Women’s Day 2014 Hayek was one of the artist signatories of Amnesty International’s letter, to then British Prime Minister David Cameron, campaigning for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Following her visit to Lebanon in 2015, Hayek criticized the discrimination against women there. 

On December 13, 2017, Hayek published an op-ed in The New York Times stating that she had been harassed and abused by film producer Harvey Weinstein during the production of Frida

In 2019, the Pinault family pledged US$113 million to support the reconstruction efforts of the burned Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. 

In 2020, Hayek raised awareness for the disappearance of Vanessa Guillen through her Instagram.