Salma Hayek is an actress, director and producer of Mexican and Lebanese descent who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in ‘Frida.’
Who Is Salma Hayek?
Salma Hayek got her big break in Hollywood with a role in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado, eventually ascending to the pinnacle of the industry with her Academy Award-nominated turn in Frida. Hayek has also been involved in TV work, notably serving as executive producer of the hit series Ugly Betty.
Salma Hayek Jiménez was born on September 2, 1966, in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, the daughter of a Spanish mother and Lebanese father. Raised in a well-to-do Catholic home, Hayek attended a convent school in Louisiana at the age of 12 and lived with her aunt in Houston, Texas, during her teens. After a brief stint at a university in Mexico City, she dropped out to pursue a career in acting, eventually becoming a telenovela star in her native Mexico.
Early Film Roles
In 1991, the ambitious Hayek moved to Los Angeles, California, determined to improve her English and become a Hollywood actress. After small gigs, she landed a role opposite Antonio Banderas in 1995’s Desperado. The success of the film garnered her work in relatively lackluster movies, including the romantic comedy Fools Rush In (1997), the teen thriller The Faculty (1998) and the action western Wild Wild West (1999). Subsequently, Hayek became engaged with smaller, independent pictures and began her own production company, Ventanarosa.
Oscar Nomination for ‘Frida’
Hayek’s increasingly intellectual and passionate approach to filmmaking culminated in her dream role in 2002’s Frida, which she both produced and starred in (as Frida Kahlo). The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including a best actress nomination for Hayek — making her the first Latin actress to be nominated in that category.
Large-scale projects followed the success of Frida, including directing 2002’s The Maldonado Miracle; starring in the final episode of the Desperado trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003); and appearing in the heist thriller After the Sunset (2004) with Pierce Brosnan.
‘Ugly Betty’ Executive Producer
Emmy Award winner and Oscar nominee Hayek went on to serve as executive producer of the hit television series Ugly Betty. Based on the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea, the series ran from 2006 to 2010, premiering on ABC and garnering a Golden Globe win (best comedy) in 2007. Also in 2007, the show’s star, America Ferrera, won the Emmy Award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series.
’30 Rock’ and ‘Grown Ups’
Demonstrating her comedic skills, Hayek made a series of guest appearances on the popular sitcom 30 Rock in 2009. She played a nurse who becomes romantically involved with a television network executive played by Alec Baldwin, later returning to the show for two guest appearances in 2013. The actress also appeared opposite Adam Sandler in the 2010 comedy Grown Ups, reprising the role in the 2013 sequel.
‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’
Hayek proved that she could hold her own as a voice actor as well after appearing in Puss in Boots (2011)—a spin-off of the popular Shrek franchise—alongside Banderas, who voiced the lead role. After starring in the violent action flick Everly (2015), she pivoted to more serious material with the widespread release of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet later that year. The actress produced and provided voiceover work for the movie, an animated retelling of Gibran’s collection of spiritual essays.
‘Beatriz at Dinner’ and ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’
Drawn to projects of varying genres, Hayek starred in the class-skewering dramedy Beatriz at Dinner and played Samuel L. Jackson’s wife in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, both in 2017. She followed with the thriller The Hummingbird Project (2018), before teaming with Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne to play a ruthless executive in the comedy Like a Boss (2020).
In December 2017, after dozens of other women had come forth to accuse mega-producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, harassment and other disturbing behavior, Hayek penned an op-ed piece for The New York Times titled, “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too.”
The actress described numerous attempts to fend off his advances over the years: “No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman.” Additionally, during one fit of rage, Weinstein allegedly threatened to kill her.
Hayek began dating French entrepreneur Francois-Henri Pinault in 2006, and the couple became engaged the following year. She gave birth to daughter Valentina Paloma Pinault on September 21, 2007, in Los Angeles, California. The couple married on Valentine’s Day 2009 in Paris, France, and held a second ceremony soon after in Venice.
Hayek had previously been romantically linked to several actors, including Edward Norton, Edward Atterton and Richard Crenna Jr.