Salma Hayek’s road to Hollywood
stardom was one fraught with challenges. Not only was she required to devote her entire life to her goal, as most up-and-coming stars must, but she also had to leave a successful career in Mexico to do it.
And, oh yeah, she had to learn English.
Born of Spanish and Lebanese parents on September 2, 1966 in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, Hayek was sent to a boarding school in Louisiana when she was twelve. Her stay in Louisiana, though, was short-lived. After menacing the nuns at her boarding school, she was sent back to Mexico.
Her parents, though, soon sent her to live with an aunt in Houston, Texas, until she was 17. At that time, she traveled to Mexico City to study international relations. But in an effort to follow her dreams, she left school and pursued a career as in acting. Soon, she found herself in a telenovella, for her work in which she soon became a star in Mexico.
But she was not happy. Quitting the show soon after finding success, she left for Hollywood, began to learn English, and studied under the highly acclaimed acting coach Stella Adler. But it was not until 1995, three years after arriving in Hollywood, that director Robert Rodriquez would give her the big break she was looking for.
In 1995, Hayek costarred with Antonio Banderas in Rodriquez’s Desperado, which role she would later revisit in 2003’s Once upon a Time in Mexico. Rodriquez had enough faith in Hayek to cast her in his next film, From Dusk until Dawn, alongside George Clooney.
Hayek place in Hollywood solidified over the next few years, with parts in Kevin Smith’s Dogma and Barry Sonnenefeld’s Wild Wild West. But all of Hayek’s talent not disclosed to audiences until she virtually became Frida Kahlo in 2002’s Frida. The industry recognized her greatness by giving her an Oscar nomination.
In a little more than a decade, Salma Hayek utilized her strong work ethic and indomitable spirit to rise to the top, becoming arguably the greatest Mexican actor in Hollywood’s century-old history of filmmaking.