Salma Hayek gained media attention for her act of breastfeeding a stranger’s infant, an incident that occurred in Sierra Leone during a UNICEF charity visit in 2008. In an interview, the 56-year-old actress recounted the story of meeting a young mother and her newborn son, which was captured on camera. The footage was later aired on Nightline in the following year, showcasing Hayek feeding the child. While some praised it as a touching moment, others believed that it was an action that went beyond acceptable bounds.
Who Is Salma Hayek?
Salma has two different names, her birth name being Salma Valgarma Hayek Jiménez and her married name being Salma Hayek Pinault. She was born in Mexico on September 2, 1966, and is a successful Latina actress, producer, and director who has opened doors for other women to achieve success like her.
Hayek, although raised in Mexico, attended a Catholic school in New Orleans and later pursued her education at the National University in Mexico. It was during her studies that television producers took notice of her, and she quickly landed the role of the protagonist in “Teresa,” a daytime Spanish television series.
Upbringing and Early Life
Salma grew up in a strict Catholic household along with her Mexican mother, who was an opera singer, and her Lebanese father, who worked in the oil industry. During her childhood in Coatzacoalcos, California, she was known to be a privileged child who had aspirations of achieving fame in Hollywood.
At the age of 12, she declared that she would flunk her classes unless she was allowed to go to the USA. As a result of this, her parents enrolled her in a Catholic school in Texas. This clearly indicates her determination and drive to achieve her goal.
After two years, Salma’s actions, which involved pranks like adjusting the clocks for all the nuns, resulted in her expulsion from the school by the nuns. Salma was disappointed and had to go back to Mexico to complete her studies.
Salma attended the National University of Mexico and upon graduation, shifted to studying political science before eventually transitioning to show business. Her career in Spanish telenovelas began with her leading role in Un Nuevo Amanecer in 1988. Her role in the popular soap opera Teresa in 1989 made her a well-known public figure across the country.
In the late 1990s, Salma made a statement that she would only marry a man who displayed more courage than she did. In 2002, she entered into a romantic relationship with Edward Norton, famous for his role in Fight Club. Salma was happy to have found true love with him and enjoyed spending time with him. Unfortunately, their relationship ended in 2003. After that, Salma fell in love with François-Henri Pinault, who is a French businessman.
In September 2007, a baby girl named Valentina Paloma was born to the couple. They got married on Valentine’s Day in Paris in 2009, and later on, they renewed their wedding vows in Venice on 25 April 2010. The wedding took place at the Teatro La Fenice opera house and was attended by prominent personalities like Bono and Penelope Cruz. The wedding reportedly cost around $3.5 million.
A Life in Hollywood
Hayek moved to Los Angeles in 1991 with the intention of pursuing a career in Hollywood movies. She made the move following the conclusion of her work on “Teresa”. Due to her dyslexia and limited English-speaking abilities, she enrolled in English classes and also joined Stella Adler’s acting classes, which helped her enhance her communication and reading abilities.
When Hayek was starting her acting career as a young woman in the USA, she faced difficulties in finding job opportunities. She observed that the entertainment industry had limited roles for Latinas. Additionally, her accent has been remarked as leading movie audiences to associate her with housekeeping roles. Her initial acting experiences in the US were unlike contemporary films that feature a greater representation of Latina women.
Up for Nomination
As a guest star, she made an appearance in Dream On, and also secured lead roles in the Showtime drama Roadracers and Mi Vida Loca. Her first collaboration with Robert Rodriguez was on one of the movies mentioned. She played the character Alma, a poor woman who becomes a courtesan in the film El Callejón de Los Milagros, which is an adaptation of a book written by Naguib Mahfouz in 1940.
Apart from the positive reviews, the movie won more accolades than any other film in Mexican cinema. Hayek was also recognized for her exceptional performance in the movie and received a nomination for the prestigious Ariel Award in the Best Actress category.
The Exotic Appeal
The way she was perceived to be beautiful and attractive greatly impacted her public image and career. According to a critique, movies she starred in early on, like Desperado and Fled, frequently cast her in alluring roles that emphasized her feminine appeal, thus contributing to her popularity as an actress.
She received compliments for her attractiveness from numerous media outlets. Her on-screen appearances often included attire that showed off her figure, but she had the physical features to look good in them. Such outfits are utilized because they are believed to boost viewership and revenue.
In the Top 50
Salma was listed by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in 1996, 2003, and 2008. Additionally, she secured the 34th and 90th positions on Maxim’s Hot 100 list in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Furthermore, FHM included her in their list of the world’s most desirable women in 2005 and 2006.
In a survey conducted by E-Poll Market Research in July 2007, out of 3,000 well-known individuals, Hayek was ranked as the most highly desired celebrity, with 65% of respondents describing her as attractive. Hayek also made fashion history at the 1997 Academy Awards, where her Armani dress was ranked among the top five dresses ever worn at the prestigious event.
A Starring Role
In the movie Desperado, Hayek achieved a prominent role as Carolina, a character portrayed as strong and self-assured. The film was produced by Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan, and featured Antonio Banderas alongside Hayek. Desperado is frequently recognized as the movie that brought Hayek into the limelight.
Hayek had a challenging experience while shooting the film. The audition process was prolonged, and the love scene in the script was troublesome to film because of the nudity involved, which caused it to take around eight hours to complete instead of one. Despite having a relatively small budget of $7 million, Desperado was a massive success in the American box office, earning $25.4 million.
Working With Matthew Perry
The romantic comedy movie “Fools Rush In” featured Salma Hayek as Isabel Fuentes Whitman and Matthew Perry. Prior to the film’s release, the Mexican actress made an appearance on The David Letterman Show where she discussed her collaboration with the Friends actor. Nevertheless, there were some challenges due to cultural differences as she found it difficult to comprehend his knock-knock jokes.
In the same year, Salma acted in The Hunchback where she played the character of Esmeralda, and she also performed as Monica in Breaking Up. At that time, she began to successfully secure nearly all the acting roles she had tried out for.
Being a Spokeswoman
Hayek served as a representative for Revlon in 1998 and has been working as an Avon representative since February 2004. Chopard also hired her to model for them in 2001. Photos of her taken by Mario Testino were featured in Spanish-language ads for Lincoln vehicles and Campari in 2006.
La Doña, which was designed by Cartier and became known through Mexican actress María Félix, was launched in April 2009 with her assistance. Given her admired and celebrated beauty, it was logical to select her as a model for both cosmetics and vehicles that appealed to a wider male audience.
Working With More Popular Names
Hayek made her debut on screen in 1998. She played the role of a youthful singer in 54, showcasing the night scenes of New York City in the 1970s. Subsequently, Hayek portrayed the character of a waitress in The Velocity of Gary and played the part of a nurse in the horror flick The Faculty.
In the film Dogma, she co-starred with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, portraying the daughter of a scientist who was kidnapped. Alongside Will Smith, she also acted in Wild Wild West. Dogma was praised by both critics and viewers, whereas Wild Wild West was one of the costliest movies ever created but did not fare well financially.
Starring in Frida
Julie Taymor’s biopic named Frida featured Salma Hayek in the role of the famous surrealist artist Frida Kahlo, and she also worked as a producer for the film. Hayek’s fascination with Kahlo’s art dates back to her teenage years, which led to her keen interest in playing Kahlo’s character in the movie.
Although she didn’t become an instant admirer, Kahlo’s artwork didn’t capture her interest during the early stages of her growth. Even though it was exquisite, Salma found it unpleasant and repulsive. Gradually, though, she became curious, and her fondness for it increased as she acquired more knowledge about it.
What She Thought of Frida
Despite the emotional and profound nature of her experiences, some individuals may only perceive misery, yet Salma has the capacity to recognize irony and comedy. This character trait caught the attention of Frida’s partner Diego, who admired her tenacious nature. Despite various obstacles standing in her way, like her accident or Diego’s unfaithfulness, she persevered and remained resilient.
Salma’s portrayal in Kahlo resulted in her receiving nominations for the Best Actress Academy Award, as well as Best Actress nominations for both the Golden Globe Award and SAG Award.
Founding a Production Company
Hayek founded Ventanarosa, a production company in 1999 that focuses on TV and film production. One of her noteworthy productions was Mexico’s official submission for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars- El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba. Hayek also appeared in various roles such as a waitress in Living it Up, a Spanish drama, and a cop and a Playboy model in the heist comedy Chain of Fools.
In the movie Timecode, she portrayed a young actress who dreams of making it big in the industry. Additionally, she was not only the lead actress but also the producer of the movie “In the Time of the Butterflies,” which is based on the book by Julia Alvarez that depicts the lives of the Mirabal sisters. In that film, Hayek played the role of one of the sisters, named Minerva, while Edward James Olmos played the part of their rival, Rafael Leónidas Trujillo.
Hayek was an executive producer for the television show called Ugly Betty which she co-adapted with Ben Silverman. Originally created as a half-hour sitcom for NBC in 2004, it was later accepted by ABC for the 2006-2007 season and produced by Silvio Horta. Salma made a guest appearance as Sofia Reyes, who was an editor for a magazine. Ugly Betty was a triumph with both critical acclaim and an enthusiastic viewership, earning a Golden Globe for the Best Comedy Series in 2007.
Hayek received nominations in both the Outstanding Guest Actress and Outstanding Comedy Series categories due to her success. She also agreed to build ABC projects through Ventanarosa, while partnering with MGM to establish a film production company with a focus on Latin content.
Salma Hayek directed and produced The Maldonado Miracle, a film based on a novel of the same title, which earned her a nomination for a Daytime Emmy in 2003. She also contributed to the productions of Spy Kids 3, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Game Over, and V-Day.
The Mariachi Trilogy was concluded by Once Upon a Time in Mexico, which earned a global revenue of $98.2 million. It is worth mentioning that Hayek played her Desperado character once again.
Not Such Good Feedback
Hayek had a cameo role in Across the Universe in 2007, performing a cover of a Beatles song. The romantic jukebox musical drama was written and directed by Julie Taymor. Salma played Madame Truska, an indestructible beard-growing woman, in Cirque du Freak. In 2009, she appeared in The Vampire’s Assistant, which marked her first acting role after giving birth to her daughter.
As she described the movie, based on the Darren Shan book series, it required some hard work. Critically and commercially, the film failed. Nevertheless, Screen Rant noted that Hayek played Madame Truska with a lot of charm, but it was difficult for her to elevate the story alone.
The Juice Cleanse Program
As part of Juice Generation’s Cooler Cleanse program, Hayek collaborated with the co-founder of the company in 2008 to create her own juice line. Having written the foreword to the 2014 Juice Generation cookbook, The Juice Generation: Superfood Smoothies and Fresh Juices, she and Helms started Blend It Yourself in 2017.
This company supplies subscribers with prepared organic beauty elixirs based on acai bowl ingredients. Many were on board with that, given that Salma is beautiful, and many wanted to adopt her diet to get gorgeous skin like hers.
Taking on More Roles
In addition to costarring in the comedy Grown Ups with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, Hayek appeared in Oliver Stone’s Savages, and as the lovestruck lover in Here Comes the Boom. Her next role was as an enslaved woman who uses violence to free herself in the action film Everly.
In Tale of Tales, an adaptation of a fairy tale book written by Giambattista Basile in the 17th century, Hayek depicted a queen impregnating herself through a magic ritual that involves eating a sea monster’s heart. Her later roles were in How to Be a Latin Lover and Drunk Parents.
A Busy Year
After already starring in many movies, Salma had an interview with Made in Hollywood, in which she talked about her experience working with her friend, the Mexican actor and comedian Eugenio, and what it was like acting in Spanish.
Incorporating Latin American humor into the movie was special, and she liked the two combined as it went well having two types of humor that worked seamlessly together. Salma was looking forward to the year ending for a well-deserved break.
Nursing That Went Wrong
During a visit to Sierra Leone, the 56-year-old Eternals star remembered a particularly poignant moment related to an incident that occurred back in 2008. A UNICEF charity mission brought Hayek to Sierra Leone, where Salma saw a young mother holding a one-week-old baby boy. Hayek nursed the young boy, the moment was captured on camera and broadcast the following year on Nightline.
In the video, Hayek explains that the boy was starving, and she was weaning her daughter Valentina, yet she still had ample milk, so she nursed. During that time, Hayek stopped nursing her one-year-old daughter, whose birthday coincided with the one-week-old boy’s. She was amazed at how much he looked at her even though he was so little, as she says in the video.
Why Did She Do It?
She then explained her reasoning for the gesture, saying she thought about it and wondered if it was disloyal to her child to give away her milk. Hayek then decided it’d be very rewarding for her baby to share her milk with others, hoping it would help her continue sharing and caring for others when she grows up.
ABC News reported that infant mortality was the highest in Sierra Leone, and Hayek wanted women to stop being stigmatized for nursing. It was an important subject to her, and she wanted to spread awareness.
Recalling the Moment
Almost a decade later, Hayek recalled the moment during a UNICEF ball acceptance speech. She says the 15-year-old girl was crying and shaking as she held her baby, pleading that she needed milk as her baby was starving. As her daughter was being weaned, Salma had an oversupply of milk.
Hayek sat down with the baby in her arms and breastfed the little one. At the time, she didn’t think much about it as the baby was starving, and as a mother, she wanted to help the infant in whatever way she could.
It Turned Into a Debate
In 2009, Salma Hayek sparked a whole new debate about nursing with the release of a YouTube video. In an interview with ABC’s Nightline, Hayek explained that she fed the newborn to promote nursing in an area where infant mortality is high, mainly due to malnutrition.
In places like Sierra Leone, starvation is an immediate threat. Even when alternative sources of nourishment are appropriate, practicable, cost-effective, reliable, and safe, which isn’t seen in many impoverished countries, women choose to nurse.
As of 2020, her credits include the comedy Like a Boss, featuring her as a ruthless cosmetics magnate, and The Roads Not Taken, which tells the story of a man dreaming about the alternative lives he could’ve lived. Needless to say, she was great in both of these movies.
In Bliss, Hayek stars in a sci-fi dramedy about someone who believes that the world is a virtual reality simulation. She portrayed the immortal character Ajak in Eternals, a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Aside from that, Hayek has voiced several animated films, including The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
Where Is Salem Hayek Now?
Salma, her 14-year-old daughter Valentina, and her husband Francois-Henri Pinault own an extraordinary 17-bedroom mansion in London. This mansion was once occupied by Justin Bieber – what a name to share homeownership with!
After moving from France in 2014, the 55-year-old reportedly started renting the house in 2017. The couple has not been reported to have purchased a new home since then, so it’s safe to assume they’ve remained in the same place. According to reports, the house has three floors and includes an indoor pool, fitness center, movie theater, and tennis court. Now that’s what we call living the life!
It only took one film to make Vivien Leigh a household name. Famous for Gone With the Wind, Leigh would be considered one of the foremost actresses of her time. Off-screen, however, her life was less of a fairytale…
A Veritable Scarlett Woman
Just because Leigh was a movie star didn’t mean her life was easy. Throwing herself into her work took a toll on her health, both mental and physical, but still left time for a number of secret affairs.
Rising From The East
Leigh’s rise to fame might not have seemed likely when she was born in India in 1913. While her childhood began in the tropical country, her parents were keen to move to other parts of the world. Before settling back down at a boarding school in London, Leigh was uprooted multiple times as her parents moved around, likely sewing the seeds for some of the later psychological struggles that would nearly ruin her entire hard-earned career.
Toddling Into The Spotlight
Somehow, Leigh always knew she was destined to be an actress. Her mother ran a small theater company near their home in India, which allowed the three-year-old Leigh to step onstage and recite the entirety of Little Bo Peep for a charmed audience. With applause still ringing out around her, Vivien decided her life’s path. Chasing her dreams, however, would come at a price. Like many actresses in Hollywood, Vivien would soon be treading the same steps as one of her most famous characters.
Ambitious And Alone
When Vivien returned to England, she had a fire burning within her. While in school, she befriended the future star, Maureen O’Sullivan, who noted just how ambitious she remembered the young Vivien being. O’Sullivan recalled in a later interview, “Vivien always wanted to be an actress. She was single-minded. She was the only girl in the school to take ballet, for instance. She took it alone, the only one. I thought it was rather brave of her.”
Mama Takes Charge
Some of Vivien’s sheer skill as an actress may have been chalked up to the fact that her mother was keen on cultivating her mind from an early age. She not only had her daughter read extensive amounts of literature, but also created a game to hone her memorization skills. While this may have just been an exercise to keep Leigh sharp, she supposedly was able to later utilize it in her acting, learning her lines after reading the script only twice.
Hard Work For A Wife
Vivien Leigh was only 19 when she married her first husband, Leigh Holman. He was a well to do British lawyer, which afforded her a life of comfort. When she met Holman, Vivien found herself far less interested in acting, at least for the time being, but she would quickly get bored as a housewife. Less than a year after their wedding, Vivien found herself with a baby on hand, but she was far from ready to be a mother.
Soon after Suzanne’s birth, Vivien skipped out on her motherly duties, preferring to chase her acting dream instead. Much like Scarlett herself, Vivien was so disinterested in caring for her own child, she let her own mother take over most of the duties. By the time World War II began, Vivien was entirely removed from her daughter’s life, as she was living in Canada at the time. In the decade following her first divorce, it was Holman who took responsibility for their child.
Stars In Her Eyes
With a timeless beauty, Vivien didn’t find it difficult to start getting minor roles, but her biggest break would come thanks to another famous actor. While she was watching a performance of a play starring the legendary Laurence Olivier, she turned to her friend and stated, “That’s the man I’m going to marry.” As her friend would point out, Leigh was already married, and for that matter, so was Olivier. Neither would be an obstacle to their love.
Taking It Offstage
Vivien wasted no time in pursuing Olivier, as she supposedly even gave him a kiss when she met him backstage for the very first time. When they were cast opposite one another in Fire Over England in 1937, their affair would become unavoidable. Though they were fully committed to their romance with each other, they found their spouses were an unexpected obstacle. Neither was able to get divorced, though Leigh and Olivier quickly took to living together.
Banking On Scarlett
From the moment that Vivien finished reading the 1936 novel Gone With the Wind, she knew she was born to play Scarlett. She began an immediate campaign to win the role, despite being an unknown over in Hollywood. Finally, she pulled a few more strings to have her brother bring her to the executive producer, David O’ Selznick. Moreover, she instructed him to introduce her as “your Scarlett.” O’Selznick had already seen thousands of girls for the role, but no one clicked until the moment he met Leigh.
Force To Be Reckoned With
The indomitable spirit that Vivien brought to her role as Scarlett was a regular feature of Vivien’s offscreen demeanor as well. There was something about her that many found intimidating, even her better-known co-stars. According to a report in Daily Mail, Vivien once admitted to a journalist that even Clark Gable, who was already an established Hollywood star, was nervous the very first time he met his new co-star for Gone With the Wind.
Despite the fact that Vivien’s introduction to Hollywood was as the lead in one of the biggest movies ever made, she wasn’t afforded the same privileges as her better-known male co-stars. Leigh was required to work upwards of 120 days, some of which lasted for 18 hours, while only being paid $25,000. On the other hand, Clark Gable was on set for only 71 days and made $120,000 for playing Rhett Butler. It’s no wonder Leigh found herself playing fast and loose with her health.
If Vivien had any inkling that it would be difficult to tap into some of Scarlett’s despair and determination, she would quickly discover that she had nothing to worry about. The actress Cammie Conlon who played Scarlett’s daughter said that even in photographs she had of Leigh from on set, you could see how exhausted she was at all times. The only things that kept her going were weekend visits with Olivier and smoking an excessive amount.
Hands On Experience
At the same time that Leigh revealed she easily intimidated Gable upon their introduction, she also let slip that the sensation wouldn’t last for long. Eventually, Gable tried to make more romantic inroads with his co-star, who only had eyes for her lover Olivier. How forward Gable isn’t clear, as in some cases she said that he was overcome by watching her get laced into her tiny corset, while in others, she said he tried to proposition her, but she turned him down.
Belle Of The Ball
While Scarlett O’Hara may have gained a negative reputation for how she used men, in truth she still wasn’t behaving inappropriately with them outside of her marriages. Vivien, on the other hand, was content with her one, still married lover, at least at the start. As their relationship wore on, and they finally married, Olivier complained that Leigh’s constant desire for intimacy was exhausting even for him. This hunger would eventually push her to look for fulfillment in other places.
Brush With Tragedy
Leigh couldn’t have been more elated when she won yet another coveted role. She was all set to play Cleopatra in the film of the same name, and to heighten her excitement, she also discovered she was pregnant with her and Olivier’s first child. A mishap wasn’t far on the horizon, however. During the filming, Vivien slipped and took a nasty fall, which would cause her to miscarry. Though they didn’t realize it, the sad accident would have a deeper effect on Vivien than she ever imagined.
Out Of The Woodwork
As can often happen, it sometimes takes a dramatic event to pull and underlying condition out of someone. After suffering the miscarriage, Leigh’s moods seemed to turn at the drop of a hat even more frequently than they had before. For Olivier, it was almost like living with two completely different people. Though they didn’t realize it then, the symptoms that Leigh was exhibiting were for bipolar disorder, which, like many other mental illnesses at the time, was rarely ever acknowledged.
Flight Of The Bumblebee
With Vivien Leigh’s continuously strong romantic desires, she found that her lust was exhausting her husband. Her voracious appetite finally pushed her into beginning an affair with a new man. When Vivien took up with Peter Finch, it seemed that Olivier was so exhausted by her he hardly minded. The affair wouldn’t last very long, but as the couple would discover, this was to be the first of many for the tortured starlet. At the same time, their love for one another was still strong.
Sucked Into Blanche
When it came to Vivien’s professional successes, her two career highlights were Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire. However, the work of portraying a woman succumbing to madness as Leigh was battling psychological struggles of her own was too much for the actress to handle. The connection was clear even to Leigh, who said, “Blanche is a woman with everything stripped away. She is a tragic figure and I understand her. But, playing her tipped me into madness.”
Leigh’s health was becoming ever more precarious, to a point that it was beginning to affect her career. While she was filming Elephant Walk, Leigh would end up having a nervous breakdown, taking her out of the film entirely. She was replaced by Elizabeth Taylor for a second time as she returned home to recover. Assisting Olivier in stabilizing Vivien was her first husband, Leigh Holman. Though they had split many years prior, he still maintained some influence over her increasingly erratic mental state.
Shock And Awe
In the aftermath of her Elephant Walk breakdown, Vivien experienced her first stay in a psych hospital. At the time, one of the only treatments that were considered was electroshock therapy. While such treatments have been discontinued, Vivien was subject to the multiple rounds until she was discharged. While she seemed to recover enough to join Olivier back onstage for their many theatre productions, their relationship was finally on the rocks. There was little time left to save the remnants.
An All Consuming Fire
In the mid-1940s, Vivien Leigh came down with a disease that has largely been erased from the memory of younger generations living in modern countries. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis, but soon recovered. However, in 1967, the infection became active once more. Even today, the disease can be difficult to fully eradicate in a person who caught it. For Vivien, it became a souvenir that would eventually take her life, despite appearing to be on the mend in the weeks prior to her death.
The Last Romance
When Vivien married her third and final husband, who she began a relationship with as she felt her marriage with Laurence Olivier winding down, Olivier had a few stipulations. He needed to make sure that whoever Vivien was going to be with knew the full extent of her health issues. Jack Merivale assured him he would care for her. For the last years of her life, both men in addition to her first husband would be constant presences.