Salma Hayek is a Mexican-American actress and producer. Her career began in Mexico starring in the telenovela Teresa and the film Miracle Alley. Her role in this film earned her a nomination for the Ariel Award. She relocated to Hollywood in 1991. She gained popularity due in part to her sultry, exotic beauty and her role in Desperado in 1995. Her breakthrough role, though, came in 2002 when she played Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in the movie, Frida. This role garnered the actress nominations as Best Actress for the Academy Awards, BAFTA Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Golden Globe Award.
Hayek was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico to a family of wealthy, devout Roman Catholics. As a child, she was diagnosed with dyslexia and with ADHD. She overcame these obstacles to attend college at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, where she studied International Relations. When she arrived in Los Angeles in 1991, she had a limited command of the English language. Her first starring role was opposite famed actor, Antonio Banderas in 1995’s Desperado. She went on to star opposite Matthew Perry in the romantic comedy, Fools Rush In. She then costarred with Will Smith in Wild Wild West. Other acting roles include Dogma, Traffic, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
Acting led to the creation of her own film production company, Ventanarosa, which produces movies and television programming. Ventanarosa produced the film Frida, which she starred in successfully. In 2003, her company produced The Maldonado Miracle, which she also directed. A woman of many talent, she served as executive producer of the television series, Ugly Betty, which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Series in 2007. Hayek’s performance in the series as Sofia earned the actress a nomination for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
With all these awards, accolades, and acting roles to her credit, Selma Hayek uses her fame to support the causes she stands for. She works hard to increase awareness of violence against women and fights to banish discrimination against immigrants. In 2005, she testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary supporting the fight to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The actress is also a board member of V-Day, the charity founded by playwright Eve Ensler. Championing all these activist activities aside, Hayek proudly proclaims that she is a feminist, saying, “I am a feminist because a lot of amazing women have made me who I am today…not be just because I am a woman.”
Also an advocate for giving children a healthy start in life through breastfeeding, she was noted for breastfeeding a one-week-old baby whose mother could not produce milk during a trip to Sierra Leone representing UNICEF. Her humanitarian efforts have earned her a nomination for the VH1 Do Something Awards. More than a beautiful face, Selma Hayek is a representation to women everyone that when we stand up for the rights of one, we create a better world for all.