Salma Hayek: Mom on a Mission
Motherhood inspired Salma Hayek to take on one more high-profile role: saving women and children in Africa.
Salma Hayek’s life changes
Since the birth of Valentina, Hayek personally understands that mindset.
She’s still an ambitious force to be reckoned with in the entertainment
industry -- Entertainment Weekly praised her as one of the “25 Smartest
People in TV” in December 2008 -- but because of her daughter, she’s made some
changes in how she looks at her career.
“I haven’t had the guts to do something violent or dark. I’m not there,” she
says. “I actually canceled a movie. They said, ‘You can really move yourself as
an actress with this role and go to a really dark place.’ I said, I don’t want
to go there! Maybe I’ll change my mind later, but right now, I want easy movies
that I can take my child along to. I want uplifting movies for the world.”
Even in the movies she watches, Hayek finds herself turning away from
violence -- a challenge since, as a voting member of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences, she has to vote for Best Picture nominees for the
“I have to watch them all, and I take it very seriously and have to be
objective,” she says. She cites Vicky Cristina Barcelona, starring her
great friend and Bandidas co-star Penelope Cruz, and The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button as two of her favorites this year. “And Milk -- I
loved Sean [Penn] in it! But I’m watching the rest, too, even the violent ones.
I still appreciate the craft and the films and the acting in them.”
Salma Hayek’s childhood
She’s raising Valentina to be trilingual (French, Spanish, and English), but
Hayek herself didn’t learn English well until she abandoned her lucrative
career in Mexican soap operas and moved to Hollywood in 1991. Even though she
was diagnosed with dyslexia in her teens, she didn’t find mastering a second
“I’m really a fast learner. I always was, which is maybe why in high school
they didn’t realize I had dyslexia. I skipped years without studying too much,”
she says. “[The dyslexia] doesn’t bother me now. Some people read really fast,
but you’ll ask them questions about the script and they’ll forget. I take a
long time to read a script, but I read it only once. I directed a movie [The
Maldonado Miracle, for which she won a Daytime Emmy], and I
never brought the script to the set.”
Hayek was a gymnast in her teen years, and was even approached to join the
Mexican national team -- something her oil-company executive father forbade.
Today, she prefers Pilates to keep in shape. “It appeals to me because I’m
lying down!” she jokes. “It’s like you do the effort, but you don’t feel it as
much.” Her fitness routine must be working -- a national poll ranked Hayek as
the sexiest celebrity in the country in 2007.