Kate's Notes

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek Jiménez (born September 2, 1966) is best known for her elegant spanish beauty and Latin American frame, as well as her impecable acting skills. Though her introduction to Hollywood was strife with typcasting, this eventual Academy Award-nominated actress, Emmy award-winning director, and film and television producer, has become one of the most successful Latin-American actress in Hollywood since Carmen Miranda. Hayek has appeared in more than thirty films and performed as an actress outside of Hollywood in Mexico and Spain.

Hayek also spends her time doing charity work that focuses on increasing awareness about violence against women and discrimination against immigrants.

Early Life and Career in Mexico

Born to Sami Hayek, a Lebanese oil company executive, and Diana Jiménez, an opera singer in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, Hayek was raised in a wealthy, devoutly Catholic family. Hayek's paternal grandparents were Mexicans of Lebanese descent, while her mother is of Spanish descent. She was sent to the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau, Louisiana, at the age of 12, but Hayek returned to Mexico after she was not asked to return by the head nun to the Academy due to behavioral problems. She was also interested at this time in gymnastics, and hope to pursue Olympic dreams.

She was later sent to live with her aunt in Houston, Texas, where she stayed until she was 17.

She studied International Relations at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City; however, she dropped out to pursue a career as an actress.

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 El Callejón de los Milagros (Midaq Alley), which has won more awards than any other movie in the history of Mexican cinema. For her performance Hayek was nominated to an Ariel Award.

Career in Hollywood

Despite her minimal English, Hayek moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1991 to study acting under Stella Adler, and pursue a career in Hollywood.

The then 24 year old actress approached Hollywood with naïve enthusiasm, and quickly learned that Latin actresses were almost always typecast as the mistress, maid, or local prostitute. By late 1992, Hayek had landed only bit parts. She appeared on “Street Justice” (1991), "The Sinbad Show," “Nurses” (1991), and as a sexy maid on the HBO series “Dream On” (1990). She also had one line in the Allison Anders film "Mi Vida Loca." Feeling under-appreciated by American filmmakers, Hayek vented her frustrations on comedian Paul Rodriguez's late-night Spanish-language talk show in 1992.

The famed Latin-American director Robert Rodriguez and his producer wife Elizabeth Avellan saw the comedy special, and were impressed with the young aspiring starlet. They soon gave Hayek the break she needed, a starring role opposite Antonio Banderas in 1995's Desperado.

The movie introduced Hollywood's to the Latin beauty, and her career in American films officially began.

Hayek followed her success in Desperado with a brief but memorable role in From Dusk Till Dawn, starring George Clooney. In 1999 she co-starred in Will Smith's big-budget Wild Wild West, and played a supporting role in Kevin Smith's Dogma. In 2000 she had an uncredited acting part opposite Benicio Del Toro in Traffic.

Hayek followed up her success by founding production company Ventanarosa, through which she produces film and television projects. Her first feature as a producer was 1999's El Colonel 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 also featured an entourage of stars in supporting roles, including Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, Geoffrey Rush, Edward Norton and Valeria Golino. She earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her performance.

In 2003 she reprised her role from Desperado by appearing in the final film of the Mariachi Trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

In that same year she produced and directed The Maldonado Miracle, a Showtime movie which won her a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Children/Youth/Family Special.

Other Work

In December 2005, she directed a music video for Prince, titled "Te Amo Corazon" ("I love you, sweetheart") that featured her good friend Mia Maestro.

Hayek is an executive producer of the wildley successful Ugly Betty, a television series airing since September 2006. 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. The show quickly became a ratings hit and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Series in 2007.

Hayek has also been credited as a song performer in three movies. The first was Desperado for the song "Quedate Aqui." In Frida she performed with band Los Vega the Mexican folk song "La Bruja." She also recorded Siente mi amor, which played during the end credits of Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

She has been a spokesperson for Avon Products, Inc. since 2004. She formerly served in the same function for Revlon. She modeled for Chopard in 2001 and was featured in 2006 Campari adverts as photographed by Mario Testino. That same year she helped introduce La Doña, a watch by Cartier SA.

She was also featured in a series of Spanish language commercials for Lincoln cars.

Personal Life and Media Spotlight

Hayek is dyslexic, and fluent in English, Arabic, Spanish and Portugese.

She dated fellow actor Edward Norton for four years, between 1999 and 2003, and then Josh Lucas from 2003 until 2004. As of 2006, Hayek is single and has homes in Los Angeles and Mexico; she has said that she "keep waiting to meet a man who has more balls than [she does]."
She is best friends with Spanish actress Penelope Cruz. The two co-starred in the 2006 film, Bandidas. Hayek studied at Ramtha's School of Enlightenment. She is also good friends with Ashley Judd.

She was named #34 on the Maxim magazine Hot 100 of 2005 list, #12 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005,” and named #36 in FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2006.”

Charity Work

Hayek visited Guatemala from May 2, 2005 to May 5, 2005 as an ambassador to Youth/AIDS, in order to promote the prevention of the mortal disease. Ashley Judd and Colombian pop singer Juanes also came with her.

In addition, the Oscar-nominated actress and the Avon Foundation today announced the launch of a multi-faceted partnership to tackle the issue of domestic violence called Speak Out Against Domestic Violence.


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