If there is one word to describe Salma Hayek, it is ‘confident’. Given her considerable talent, she should be. The actor, who will turn 50 this year, has enjoyed a glittering Hollywood career, starring in a range of diverse productions, from acclaimed art biopic Frida to TV sitcom Ugly Betty. But it’s the way she displays that confidence in fighting for what she believes in that makes her stand out as a champion of human rights, raising awareness about violence against women and discrimination against immigrants.
She inspires other women to speak up with the same level of confidence. Addressing the Variety Power of Women luncheon last year, the mother-of-one said, “I think the voice of women can change the world, but we don’t know our voice. We’ve never really investigated. We’ve been too busy for many, many decades and generations, trying to operate within systems that were designed by men. I don’t think we really have tapped into our potential or our own creativity.”
Here, we take a look at the passion and confidence that drive Salma Hayek to accomplish what she has, personally and professionally.
Embracing her age
When asked by a journalist what freedom means to her, the Mexican-American actor said, “it is to have instincts and to have the courage to follow them through… When you hear so many things 24/7 that are trying to tell you who you are, where you are, what you are supposed to do; to find the space to stop it and just hear your own voice... That’s freedom – that silence.”
And that is the key to Salma. Whether she is in actress, mother or wife mode she is supremely confident in her role. And that confidence extends to her perception of herself as she ages.
At the age of 25 she moved to Los Angeles, after working on telenovelas in her native Mexico. She got her Hollywood break in Desperado, opposite Antonio Banderas, aged 29. She says, even at that age, she was advised by those in the business to start using Botox. “When I was young, they tried to sell me on the idea: ‘If you do it now, then you won’t get the wrinkles.’ And thank goodness I didn’t do that!,” she says.
Salma’s advice to younger women is very different from what she was told all those years ago. “I think the most important thing to tell the new generation is to have the courage to be unique, to be curious about who they are, instead of trying to blend in,” she says. “The most important thing to say to the girls is to not try to be like the other girls. Not to try to fit in, but to try to really be profound thinkers that are excited about their differences and explore what they are and who they are and what can come out of the new.”
In the business of beauty
Despite eschewing Botox, the actress does believe in making the most of your looks and maintaining what you have. In 2011, Salma launched Nuance, a beauty line that combines traditional Mexican ingredients with modern cures to address concerns such as ageing, loss of hydration, and uneven tone and texture.
She says the range was “inspired by my grandmother – my products are designed to help every woman enhance the nuances that define her individual beauty.” Her techniques clearly work. Despite being surgery-averse, the Latina actress, with Lebanese roots on her father’s side, boasts a flawless complexion, which she puts down to cleansing and working out.
“I don’t have a lot of time for fitness, but my days are filled with activity, so I’ve learned to use every second. I have been working with a woman in London who has taught me how to hold my body in a way that makes everything a workout – even brushing my teeth,” she told Vogue.
She also shared her two top beauty habits: “The most important rule in beauty is this: Always wash your face before you go to bed. It’s very important to cleanse at night. I use a chamomile cleanser if I haven’t been wearing makeup, and an oil cleanser if I’m wearing makeup – it takes everything off. Rule number two: Never wash your face in the morning. Your skin regenerates all the things that you lost during the day while you’re sleeping.”
Finding Mr Right
In March 2007, Salma simultaneously announced that she was marrying French billionaire François-Henri Pinault and that she was expecting his baby. The pair married, in suitably romantic fashion, on Valentine’s Day in Paris, before a second ceremony in Venice, the following April.
Before meeting the high-end-fashion mogul, the Frida star dated actors Edward Norton and Josh Lucas, from 1999 to 2003, and 2003 to 2005 respectively.
On dating in general, she says, “I wish I knew [when I was younger] that I was going to fall crazy in love with the perfect man… I was so worried, and I dated some people I shouldn’t have dated. You get desperate, and you start seeing wonderful things in, like, the wrong guys.”
She quickly adds, “I also found some pretty good guys. But I wish I could say to myself, ‘Hey, chill out. You’re going to get a great husband who’s going to adore you.’ I would have saved myself a lot of personal drama.”
And what is her secret to a happy marriage? Don’t spend too much time apart! “I’ve never been apart from my daughter for more than two weeks. And same with François. We don’t separate for long periods of time. Never,” she told Allure.
Motherhood in her forties
Salma’s daughter, eight-year-old Valentina Pinault, made headlines last year for reasons not typical of a celebrity’s child.
“My daughter Valentina is growing her beautiful mane so she can cut it and donate it to make a wig for children with cancer. Now that is the spirit of Christmas,” she told her Twitter followers.
“It’s important that your kids understand that they are the most important thing, but it’s not all about them,” she says about bringing her daughter up with a selfless attitude. “You set an example that you are also your own person and you have to continue to grow in the field that you are working in.”
Motherhood, it seems, is something that the Grown Ups actor certainly doesn’t take for granted as, being 41 when Valentina was born, she’d never expected to have a child.
“I had my child so late in life,” she says, “I thought I wasn’t going to be able to and it was such an important thing to me.”
And shortly after becoming a mother, she revealed that her focus completely switched, and she decided to stop working. “I said, ‘I don’t think I want to work any more,’” she recalls. “And it was François who said, ‘Oh, no, you’re going back to work.’ And I said, ‘I don’t want to.’ ‘Well, you have to. We’re not putting up with some lazy girl in the house. That’s not who I married,’” she continues. “And then he said something so beautiful: ‘I don’t want to be deprived of your work. I want to watch it too. And the world has not seen the best of you yet. So you cannot stop until some of that is put out.’ So he sort of really pushed me, like, ‘Get up on your feet and get out there,’ And he was right.”
Salma’s legions of fans would certainly agree with him.
The actress clearly knows shades of rose suit her, as seen in these Gucci creations at last year’s British Fashion Awards; the Toronto Film Festival and LACMA Art and Film gala.
From Quentin Tarantino’s black comedy horror From Dusk till Dawn, to action flick Desperado and acclaimed biopic drama Frida, Salma has proved she can handle any role thrown at her.
All for one, one for all
Salma is surrounded with positive people like herself, from her husband who passionately supports her career, to her daughter, who grew her hair so it could be donated to make a wig for a cancer sufferer