Words by Sean Douglas
Salma’s story is one of bravery; determination and the defiance to prove wrong, anyone that told her, ‘you will not succeed.’
Like any young Dyslexic school proved a bitter/sweet experience for Salma and at the age of twelve she was expelled from school for playing pranks on the schools nuns. The rest of her school career was more successful and she made it all the way to University. But it was while studying at the Universidad Iberoamericana she eventually dropped out of college to pursue a career in acting.
Leaving university was the decision that set Selma’s career in motion and she soon became a household name, with her role in the hugely successful telenovela Teresa.
If Salma had continued in this direction there is no doubt she’d have ended up as one of Mexico’s biggest stars. However Salma couldn’t shake the lure of Hollywood and left a country where she had a readymade career, to try and make it in a place where she was a nobody and in a place where she couldn’t even speak the language!
Salma found her first few months in the U.S. much more difficult than she’d anticipated. Something she discussed on the Oprah chat show.
“I thought I could understand the movies. I was reading the subtitles and thinking I was understanding more than I was. I thought I’d pick up the language again in three months. Then I came here and realized how truly limited my English was, and it was very scary. I soon realized it wasn’t going to be hard to learn—it was going to be nearly impossible.
Selma found her limited English wasn’t the only barrier to her success in Hollywood.
I came here and I didn’t speak English, I didn’t have a green card, I didn’t know I had to have an agent, I couldn’t drive, I was dyslexic.
Dyslexia may have initially made life in the US quite difficult but it also brought her moments of humour, “I read the first review. What do they say about me? “Salma Hayek is a bombshell.” I had heard that when a movie does badly here, they say it bombs. So I’m crying. I think they’re saying, “That terrible actress! It’s a bomb! Salma Hayek is the worst part of the movie!” I called my friend and said, “The critics are destroying me!” She says, “No, they’re saying you’re very sexy.” And then I look at all the reviews, and everybody said I was very sexy.
Although Salma initially struggled to find work in Hollywood she eventually blagged the role as Antonio Banderas’ side kick in the action flick Desperado. This role transformed Salma from sidekick to superstar.
As well as her high profile acting career what’s less high profile is the fact that she is one the few female actress’ to set up her own production companies. Ventanarosa Productions is not only the vehicle that allowed Salma to produce the Oscar winning Frida but it also enabled her to bring Ugly Betty to the U.S. market. Once again Salma was told a show about and ugly Latina with braces would never engage U.S. viewers. Ugly Betty went on to win an Emmy Award.
Salma’s journey to the top has at times been anything but easy, but the bumps and pot holes that have made her journey uncomfortable have also made her the person she is today.
“I’m very lucky I didn’t have it easy, because I’ve learned so much from having to figure out everything on my own and create things for myself. Now I can teach what I’ve learned to the next generation.”
The Codpast is a multimedia production from www.extraordinaire.tv