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Salma says

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Transcript by
Scan and article contributed by Bill Austin

Latina Magazine / July 1999
By Lalo Lopez

It's the summer of Salma Hayek and we've got Hollywood's hottest maverick sounding off about life, love and the pursuit of felicidad.

This is the Salma Hayek we rarely get to see - no makeup, barefoot, and wearing a simple crushed-velvet black dress. Fresh out of the shower, the sexy half Lebanese, half Mexican actress sweetly greets you at her Hollywood Hills home como una amiga. She proudly shows you the pictures of family and friends displayed on tables. And then there are her santos. Her home is well protected by her favorite saint, Santo Nino de Antocha, her retablos, and the religious artwork that graces her surroundings.

Everything is in its place, and that's the way she likes it. When Hayek left a successful career in Mexico eight years ago, she was determined to conquer the United States. And now she's holding court with Will Smith in this summer's hit flick Wild Wild West. But Hayek has no time to think about Wild; this pint-size dynamo is already looking to the future. She recently took time out of her hectic schedule to sit down and talk with us.

Mi Familia

Latina: You're pretty tight with your family.

Salma: Yes, I'm very close to my parents. I've worked at being in the middle of all the family craziness-loving, caring, and spending time with them.

Latina: Was growing up biracial an issue for you in Mexico?

Salma: If it was, I didn't pay attention to it. I didn't have that sense of being completely different from everyone else. Let me give you an example: My mom's an extraordi- ary cook. Government [functionaries] from different places would come all the way to Coatzacoalcos for din- ner just to eat my mom's dishes. She was famous all around, so I was very privileged because every dish was an extraordinary one. I would eat chiles en nogada, a very sophisticated Mexican dish; or I would eat kibbe, Lebanese dish, or paella. I didn't know that all these dishes weren't Mexican. It took me a long time to realize which food was Lebanese, or Spanish, or Mexican.

Latina: You went to boarding school in the United States when you were 12. What was the one thing that you knew made you different from your classmates?

Salma: American girls were very strong and they could jump very high, but there was some rigidity in their move- ment. They had a harder time dancing. They would say "No, no, your arm is not supposed to get there with that much cadence and grace." You had to be more precise. And I learned it; I made the cheerleading team like this [snaps fingers]. I knew how to move, but you were sup- posed to be stiff to do the cheers. I see that there is a rigidity in this country - mentally and physically.

Do the hustle

L: I don't think anybody has any idea of the amount of work, the amount of hustling, it takes to make it in acting.

S: There's a lot of work and discipline involved.

L: In other words, don't pick acting if you don't like hard work and just want to be famous.

S: Exactly! If that's the case, you really have to look inside of yourself and think, Did your mother not pay attention to you as a little girl? I could not be in a better place, but I'm a perfectionist. In a weird way, I enjoy the torment of pushing myself to be better. I enjoy the thought process and the physical process and exhaustion of hard work. My father was a warrior. He's been working since he was 12, and he's never stopped. And I too have that in me, so I started my own production company.

L: What's the mission statement of Ventanarosa, your production company?

S: I don't have a mission statement for it. I take it one day at a time. Right now I'm trying to do quality television, to raise the level of Spanish television. And I want to do universal things in English. The only difference is that I'm including Latinos in that universe.

Confronting Frida

L: What were you doing in 1992-93, during the first battles of the Frida Kahlo movie wars?

S: I was trying to get in touch with the directors to get the movie done. I sent tapes and letters and stuff. They felt that I was too young, but I vowed that it would not get made until I was old enough. And here we are. They were right. I was too young. But I'm old enough right now. And I will still be the right age for the next five years.

L: So it's in preproduction now?

S: Yes, why should I rush it? It's not like I need to - I'm working nonstop. I have all the rights to Hayden Herrera's book Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo. And the Mexican government is incredibly supportive. So when people say, "Oh, there are other projects," it's not true. They don't have the rights.

L: What does Frida say to you?

S: To me she represents Mexico. Her body was broken, but her spirit was indestructable. I don't see Frida like most people see Frida - as a martyr or a victim. I see Frida as a woman who had so much passion for life she had to enjoy it.

Tu eres mi hombre

L: You are still in a relationship with Edward Atterton, the British actor you met on the set of The Hunchback. How's it going?

S: I have a wonderful boyfriend who makes me feel loved. I picked a man who was not some crazy person, because I've picked those before. You know: some man who doesn't treat me right, who doesn't respect me, who plays weird games. And I waited for him. I went a long time without a boyfriend and I could have settled for just anyone because I felt lonely. But I didn't. I saved myself for him. Baby Talk

L: You're in no rush to have a family?

S: We do want to have a family some time soon, but right now is an awkward time. You have to be respousible to have a family. We're going to wait a little longer, and then we're going to go for it. We feel like we are married, so it's not a pressure in our life. I think it's a lot more romantic when two people stay together, because they're good together.

L: And how many babies?

S: We'll see how many we can support.

Salma Hayek can be seen in the July 2 release of Wild Wild West

Lalo Lopez is coeditor of Pocho Magazine and columnist of "Mexiled" at L.A. Weekly