actress, producer, director
Born September 2, 1966 in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico
Salma Hayek was born on September 2, 1966 in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Her father's of Lebanese descent & her mother's of Mexican/Spanish ancestry. After having seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) in a local movie theater, she decided she wanted to become an actress. At 12, she was sent to the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Louisiana. After attending Mexico City's Universidad Iberoamericana, she felt ready to pursue acting seriously. She soon landed the title role in Teresa (1989), a hugely successful soap opera which earned her the star status in her native Mexico. However, anxious to make films & to explore her talent as well as passion, she left both Teresa (1989) & Mexico in 1991. Heartbroken fans spread rumors that she was having a secret affair w/ Mexico's president & left to escape his wife's wrath. She made her way to Los Angeles. She approached Hollywood w/ naive enthusiasm & quickly learned that Latina actresses were typecast as the mistress maid or local prostitute. By late 1992, she had landed only bit parts. She appeared on Street Justice (1991), The Sinbad Show (1993), Nurses (1991) & as a sexy maid on Dream On (1990). She also had 1 line in Mi vida loca (1993). Feeling under-appreciated by Anglo filmmakers, she vented her frustrations on Paul Rodriguez's late-night Spanish-language talk show. Robert Rodriguez & his wife Elizabeth Avellan happened to be watching & were immediately smitten w/ her. He soon gave her big break-to star opposite Antonio Banderas in the now cult classic Desperado (1995), putting her on Hollywood's map. The moviegoers were as dazzled w/ her as he had been. Afterwards, she was cast again by Rodriguez to star in his From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). Her first star billing came later that year w/ Fools Rush In (1997) opposite Matthew Perry. It was a modest hit & her star continued to rise in both commercial & films such as Breaking Up (1997) w/ an unknown Russell Crowe, 54 (1998) Dogma (1999) & Chris Rock In the Time of the Butterflies (2001), the small artistic film which won her an ALMA award as best actress & the 1999 summer blockbuster Wild Wild West (1999). Her production company Ventanarosa produced the Mexican feature film No One Writes to the Colonel (1999), which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival & selected as Mexico's official Oscar entry for best foreign film. The new millennium started out quietly as she prepared to produce & star in her dream role of Frida Kahlo, the legendary Mexican painter whom she had been admiring her entire life & whose story she wanted to bring to the big screen ever since she arrived in Hollywood. Frida (2002) was full of passion & enthusiasm, w/ performances from her & Alfred Molina as Kahlo's cheating husband Diego Rivera. It also featured an entourage of stars such as Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, Edward Norton & Valeria Golino. It was a hit & was nominated for six Academy Awards, including best actress for Hayek. It won awards for make-up & score by Elliot Goldenthal. Later that year, she expanded her horizons, directing The Maldonado Miracle (2003), which was shown at the Sundance Film festival. In 2003, she starred in the finale of Rodriguez's Desperado trilogy Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), again opposite Banderas. She also starred in After the Sunset (2004) opposite Pierce Brosnan & Ask the Dust (2006) opposite Colin Farrell. She then starred in Robert Altman's Paint & Bandidas (2006), which also featured Penélope Cruz.