Salma Hayek Jiménez is a Mexican actress, director, and television and film producer. Hayek has appeared in more than thirty films and performed as an actress outside of Hollywood in Mexico and Spain. Hayek's charitable work includes increasing awareness on violence against women and discrimination against immigrants.
Hayek is the first Mexican national to be nominated for an Best Actress Oscar. She is also, after Fernanda Montenegro, the second of three Latin Americans to achieve a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
In July 2007, The Hollywood Reporter ranked Hayek fourth in their inaugural Latino Power 50, a list of the most powerful members of the Hollywood Latino community. That same month, a poll found Hayek to be the "sexiest celebrity" out of a field of 3,000 celebrities (male and female); according to the poll, "65 percent of the U.S. population would use the term 'sexy' to describe her".
Hayek was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, the daughter of Diana Jiménez, an opera singer and talent scout, and Sami Hayek, an oil company executive. Hayek's father is of Lebanese descent while her mother is of Spanish descent. Raised in a wealthy, devoutly Catholic family, she was sent to the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Grand Coteau, Louisiana, at the age of twelve. She was also an accomplished gymnast aspiring to compete in the Olympics but her father prevented her from being recruited by the Mexican national team. The religious sisters running the Academy ejected Hayek citing behavioral problems, so she returned to Mexico. She was later sent to live with her aunt in Houston, Texas, where she stayed until she was seventeen. She attended college in Mexico City, where she studied International Relations at the Universidad Iberoamericana. To the surprise of her family, she dropped out to pursue a career as an actress.
At the age of 23, Hayek landed the title role in Teresa (1989), a successful Mexican telenovela that made her a star in Mexico. In 1994, Hayek starred in the film El Callejón de los Milagros (Miracle Alley), which has won more awards than any other movie in the history of Mexican cinema. For her performance, Hayek was nominated for an Ariel Award.
Hayek moved to Los Angeles, California in 1991 to study acting under Stella Adler, hoping for a career in Hollywood, despite limited fluency in English, attributed to her suffering from dyslexia. Robert Rodriguez and his producer wife Elizabeth Avellan soon gave Hayek the break she needed, a starring role opposite Antonio Banderas in 1995's Desperado. The movie caught Hollywood's attention, as moviegoers proved to be dazzled by Hayek as Rodriguez had been. Due to Hayek's loyalty to the director, she would later decline playing the role Catherine Zeta-Jones eventually took in The Mask of Zorro after Rodriguez abandoned the project. She has also appeared in the Spy Kids trilogy.
Hayek followed her success in Desperado with a brief but memorable role as a vampire queen in From Dusk Till Dawn, where she provocatively danced on a table. In 1999, she co-starred in Will Smith's big-budget Wild Wild West, and played a supporting role in Kevin Smith's Dogma. In 2000, she had an uncredited acting part opposite Benicio del Toro in Traffic. In 2003, she reprised her role from Desperado by appearing in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the final film of the Mariachi Trilogy.
Around the year 2000, Hayek founded production company Ventanarosa, through which she produces film and television projects. Her first feature as a producer was 1999's El Coronel No Tiene Quien Le Escriba, Mexico's official selection for submission for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.
Frida, co-produced by Hayek, was released in 2002. Starring Hayek as Frida Kahlo, and Alfred Molina as her unfaithful husband, Diego Rivera, the film was directed by Julie Taymor and featured an entourage of stars in supporting and minor roles (Valeria Golino, Ashley Judd, Edward Norton, Geoffrey Rush) and cameos (Antonio Banderas). She earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her performance. This made Hayek, along with Katy Jurado and Adriana Barraza, one of only three Mexican actresses to have been nominated for an Academy Award. The film earned two Oscars.
In 2003 she produced and directed the The Maldonado Miracle, a Showtime movie which won her a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Children/Youth/Family Special. In December 2005, she directed a music video for Prince, titled "Te Amo Corazon" ("I love you, sweetheart") that featured her good friend Mia Maestro.
Hayek is an executive producer of Ugly Betty, a television series airing around the world since September 2006. Hayek adapted the series for American television with Ben Silverman, who acquired the rights and scripts from the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea in 2001. Originally intended as a half hour sitcom for NBC in 2004, the project would later be picked up by ABC for the 2006–2007 season with Silvio Horta also producing. Hayek guest-starred on Ugly Betty as Sofia Reyes, a magazine editor. She also had a cameo playing an actress in the telenovela within the show. The show quickly became a ratings hit and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Series in 2007. Hayek's performance as Sofia resulted in a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards.
In April 2007, Hayek finalized negotiations with MGM to become the CEO of her own Latin themed film production company, Ventanazul. The following month she signed a two year deal with ABC to develop projects for the network through her production company, Ventanarosa.
She is developing and producing La Banda, a Spanish-language romantic comedy set in Mexico, written by Issa Lopez.
Hayek has been credited as a song performer in three movies. The first was Desperado for the song Quedate Aquí. In Frida she performed with band Los Vega the Mexican folk song La Bruja. She also recorded Siente mi amor, which played during the end credits of Once Upon a Time in Mexico. She also contributed to Happiness is a Warm Gun in "Across the Universe" as the singing nurses.
She dated actor Edward Norton between 1999 and 2003, and then Josh Lucas in 2003. She has friends in Los Angeles and Mexico and is best friends with Spanish actress Penélope Cruz. The two co-starred in the 2006 film Bandidas. Hayek studied at Ramtha's School of Enlightenment.
On March 9, 2007, Hayek confirmed she was expecting her first child with PPR CEO François-Henri Pinault. On September 21, 2007, she gave birth to daughter Valentina Paloma Pinault at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.