Salma Hayek Pinault, the Mexican actress and producer, is a national treasure, and she turned 53 on September 2nd, looking just as stunning and beautiful as ever. In honor of her birthday, we take a look at some facts about her life and career that will make you love her even more.
Salma was born in Coatzacoalcos, a small port town in the Gulf state of Veracruz, Mexico, and both of her parents are Mexican, but her father is of Lebanese descent. That’s where the last name Hayek comes from. Her first name means “peace” in Arabic.
At the age of 12, Salma attended the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Louisiana, but she ended up getting expelled for her troublemaker antics.
She decided to become an actress after watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, which came out in 1971.
Soap opera star
Her first big acting break came in 1989, when she played Teresa, the main character in a telenovela that broke all paradigms because the protagonist was actually the villain. Her character is a scheming, young woman who uses her wits and beauty to climb the social ladder and have the life she always dreamed of.
At 24, Salma moved to Los Angeles to further her acting career, but she found that doors were closed to her because she was Latina. As she told The Guardian in an interview: “I had studio heads say to me, ‘You could have been the biggest star in America, but you were born in the wrong country. You can never be a leading lady, because we can’t take the risk of you opening your mouth and people thinking of their maids.’”
And in 1996, she appeared in From Dusk till Dawn, directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. In this cult classic, she played Satanico Pandemonium, a vampire who takes the shape of a beautiful exotic dancer. The role showcased Hayek’s beauty and sensuality, but it was also demanded serious acting skills, so it provided further proof that she had what it took to make it in Hollywood.
Her lead performance in Frida (2002) turned her into the second Latina to be nominated for a Best Actress in a Leading Role Academy Award.
As a global spokesperson for UNICEF and Pampers, she worked in a campaign that covered the cost for one tetanus vaccine for every pack of diapers sold.
Salma was raised in a Catholic family, but later in life grew away from that religion. She studied at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, “where questions that have remained unanswered by philosophy, science, and religion find a new meaning,” and is now a practitioner of yoga.
Her wedding to French billionaire François Henri-Pinault took place on Valentine’s Day 2009, in Paris. Talk about romantic…
Fun fact: her only daughter is also named Valentina.
After receiving an award for empowering women, Salma came under fire for her “anti-feminist” views, which she told to People Magazine: “I’m not a feminist. If men were going through the things women are going through today, I would be fighting for them with just as much passion. I believe in equality,” but she later clarified her perspective, by stating: “I am a feminist because a lot of amazing women have made me who I am today. (…) But – it should not be just because I am a woman”. (The Guardian)
Krav Maga enthusiast
Hayek is known for having a very slim, yet voluptuous body, and apparently, one of the ways she stays trim is by practicing Krav Maga, a self-defense fighting system developed for the Israeli Defense Forces.
Classic film lover
She is a fan of old Hollywood classics, and her favorite films are: It Happened One Night, The Graduate, Gone with the Wind and Casablanca.
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