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Childhood in Mexico

Salma Hayek Jimenez was born on September 2, 1966 in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico. Her father Sami Hayek Dominguez is of Libanese origin and her mother Diana has Spanish roots. Salma had an unusual childhood as her father was a top executive with the state-owned oil company while her mother was an opera singer. As a wealthy business man her father could affort to spoil his child. Ski trips to Colorado and summer holidays on the Greek islands were common to Salma and she even had a private zoo with tigers in it. Her grandmother used to shave her head and her eyebrows from time to time in the belief that they would grow more luxuriant afterwards. When she was 12 her parents sent her to a Catholic boarding school in Lousiana. Salma didn't like the strict education of the nuns and was feared for her tricks on them. For example one time she rewinded all the nun's clocks. For being a troublemaker Salma was expelled and came back to Mexico where she finished highschool. Soon after that she was sent to her aunt that lived in Houston where she stayed until the age of 17. On behalf of her parents Salma started studying International Relations at the College of Mexico City but soon realized that her only dream was becoming an actress. She dropped out and started playing small roles at the theater. Her first plays included the theatrical comedy "Aladdin and the marvelous lamp" and "La visitas tienen sueno" in 1990. Salma's undeniable talent was discovered and she soon was cast in the telenovela "Nuevo Amanecer" after doing some commercials. Another telenovela was supposed to make a star out of her. Salma played the lead role of Teresa in the telenovela of the same name and rose to stardom in Mexico. In 1989 she won two TV Novela Awards. As a televison star Salma had gotten to the point she had everything she ever wanted. But that wasn't enough. In 1991 Salma decided to move to Hollywood to start at the bottom again.

The Early Years

When Salma arrived in Los Angeles she had to face the bitter truth: she was only one of thousands of aspiring actresses and she couldn't even speak English. Eighteen months of hard work followed in which Salma took English lessons and worked with acting teacher Stella Adler. Salma attended numerous auditions but couldn't land a role until Allison Anders cast her in "Mi Vida Loca". After 4 months of auditioning Salma's strong will had convinced Anders though she just gave her a small part. Salma qualified with this role for the Screen Actors Guild. But her breakthrough should be way ahead. When Salma was guest in a Spanish language cable access talk show director Robert Rodriguez saw her and wanted Salma to play alongside Antonio Banderas in his movie Desperado. The sizzling role of Carolina was a major success and Rodriguez went on casting Salma in all of his movies. In 1995 Salma returned to Mexico to star in the critically acclaimed movie "El Callejón de los Milagros" (Midaq Alley) which got her a nomination for the Silver Ariel (Mexican Oscar). Salma soon turned out to be a workaholic as she filmed up to four movies a year. Small parts in "Fair Game"(1995) and "Fled"(1996) didn't challenge her acting capabilities. In 1996 though Salma made a huge impact in Rodriguez' "From Dusk Till Dawn" as she played Satanico Pandemonium, a seducting vampire queen. Her infamous dance was an instant success - especially with the male audience. Salma couldn't get rid of the image of a sex symbol since that time though she certainly has qualities other than her beauty. A romantic comedy with Matthew Perry followed in 1997 (Fools Rush In). Salma proved her charms and talent as Isabel Fuentes. In the same year she played Esmeralda in TNT's adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel "The Hunchback". She fell in love with her acting partner Edward Atterton at that time and stayed with with him until early 1999.

The recent years

Other movies like "54" and "The Faculty" followed. Salma also began producing movies with her production company "Ventanarosa". In 1999 she made a deal with Sony to produce shows for Columbia TriStar TV (in English) and Telemundo (in Spanish). Her independent production "The Velocity of Gary" was not successful. "Wild Wild West" also had a high potential of success regarding the stars aboard (Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh) but the critics and the audience disliked the movie and it "won" several Razzie Awards in 1999. The only highlight in the movie might have been Salma. But Salma also starred in critically acclaimed movies like "No one writes to the colonel" which won the Latin American Cinema Award at the Sundance Film Festival. "Dogma" in which Salma played a heavenly muse was controversial but successful. Salma has become an institution of style in Hollywood. But while posing for fashion magazines in the most beautiful outfits she has also found the time to direct the media attention that is always with her to some issues that she deems important. She is a spokeswoman for the Revlon initiative against breast cancer, she has taken part in the USO action to support peace and stability in Kosovo and by many of her Mexican countrymen she is considered a role-model.

Last year

Salma stole the show when she presented the Scientific and Technical Awards at the Oscars 2000 wearing a glamorous lavender gown by Eric Gaskins and pink-diamond earrings by Harry Winston. In March she volunteered to be the first celebrity featured in a national public service ad campaign. The March of Dimes ad is the centerpiece of the largest and most ambitious birth defects prevention effort yet undertaken. Salma stated: "I think it's important for women to take responsibility not only for the health of their children, but for their own health." She also found the time to promote her native country and filmed several TV commercials for the tourist office in Veracruz. 2000 was also a great year for the movies: Mike Figgis' experimental "Time Code" which was shot digitally with no editing at all was applauded by critics and proved Salma's talent. Salma Hayek was also chosen by viewers as Favorite Supporting Actress Action for Wild Wild West at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. In October her first Spanish movie "La Gran Vida" premiered in Spain and Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic", in which Salma had a brief cameo, won some of the most important awards, including 4 Oscars.

What's next

Salma kept herself busy filming up to 4 movies a year. Last October she returned to Mexico to film "In The Time Of The Butterflies", which is based on the book by Julia Alvarez. It tells the true story of the 4 Mirabal sisters that fought the dictatorship in the Dominican republic. The movie is produced by Showtime TV and is tentatively scheduled for a release in October. Salma also starred in the comedy "Chain of Fools" starring Steve Zahn, Jeff Goldblum and Lara Flynn Boyle. The movie was recently released in Sweden, a US release is not known yet. In February 2001 Salma teamed up with "Time Code" director Mike Figgis again to star in his latest project "Nitevision" (also known as Hotel). The movie will premiere at this year's Venice Film Festival in September and is likely to attract critic's attention. Right now Salma is on location in Mexico to fulfill her personal dream. She portrays the life of her idol, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. It took Salma 6 years to convince production companies to invest in this project. The movie is directed by Julie Taymor and has an impressive cast with Alfred Molina, Geoffrey Rush, Edward Norton, Ashley Judd and Antonio Banderas. As soon as filming wraps Salma will travel to another movie set in Mexico. Robert Rodriguez is shooting the third part of his 'El Mariachi' trilogy called "Once upon a time in Mexico". It reunites the team of 1995's "Desperado": Antonio Banderas as the mariachi and Salma Hayek as Carolina. At the end of the year Salma is going to film another movie based on a best-selling novel "Arrancáme la Vida". Salma mentioned in an interview that apart from being a successful actress and producer she will also take on directing. The recent success of Edward Norton's "Keeping the faith" makes this even more likely.

For up-to-date details on movie projects and release dates check out our Upcoming Movies section.

May 2001
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