Simply the West; Mexican Beauty Salma Hayek Wants Her Latest Eye-Catching Role to Help Her Shed the Latino Tag She Hates

By Appleyard, Mandy | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), August 13, 1999 | Go to article overview

Simply the West; Mexican Beauty Salma Hayek Wants Her Latest Eye-Catching Role to Help Her Shed the Latino Tag She Hates


Appleyard, Mandy, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


HER strict Mexican-Catholic upbringing went right out the window when Salma Hayek slipped into fishnet stockings and dominatrix boots.

The get-up was the perfect outfit for her role in the new Will Smith blockbuster Wild Wild West, which opens today. And though it broke all the rules of her highly-disciplined upbringing, one member of her family would have been thrilled to see Salma daring to bare.

Her grandmother was so desperate to see the young Salma blossom into a beauty that she cut her grand-daughter's hair and shaved her eyebrows in the hope that they would grow back thicker and prettier.

Years later, grandma's beauty regime seems to have paid off - Salma slammed into Hollywood consciousness with an eye-catching appearance in Desperado with Antonio Banderas and has been voted one of the 50 most beautiful women in the States.

This sort of adulation is a long way from Salma's childhood in Mexico where her parents were so determined to keep their daughter pure that they even forbade her from wearing a bikini.

And Salma, 32, who lives with The Man In The Iron Mask director Edward Atterton, is the first to admit she has no problems with the changes in her life.

She says: "Do I go to church every Sunday? No.

"Plus, I live in sin with a man. And I very strongly believe in condoms. Maybe it is a sin to have sex, but if you're going to sin, then sin properly and use a condom."

Salma sees no conflict between her religion and her work, saying: "I've never found in the Bible where it says you cannot do movies where you kiss the guy and take your clothes off."

Recalling the steamy scenes she shared with co-star Banderas in the 1995 film Desperado, Hayek says sarcastically: "Forgive me, God, but I was not thinking about you when I was naked with Antonio.

"So, I guess I'm not a good Catholic."

The daughter of a Lebanese businessman and a one-time Spanish opera singer, Hayek was born and raised in Coatzacoacos, Mexico.

Her strict parents were determined that she would be well- educated and packed her off to a boarding school, run by nuns, in Louisiana when she was 12.

However, Salma's penchant for practical jokes infuriated the long-suffering nuns.

Two years later, she was suspended and sent home after sneaking into a faculty dormitory and setting all the alarm clocks back three hours.

She did finish high school in Mexico, then her mother sent her to live with an aunt in Houston, Texas, fearful of the effect "college boys" might have on the impressionable Salma.

At 17, Salma headed back to Mexico City to study international relations at college. Desperate to become an actress, she hid her career dream from her parents and tried to stay a dutiful Mexican daughter.

Eventually, she cracked.

She recalls: "One day I took my dad to lunch. I asked him if he believed in destiny and he said 'yes'. And I said 'well, I believe it's my destiny to become an actress'."

Ignoring her family's objections and the derision of her friends. she threw herself into acting, first in local theatres, then in television commercials.

The late 80s saw her in big hair and even bigger shoulder pads when she was as the title character in Mexico's biggest daytime soap, Teresa.

She quickly became the nation's soap diva, but grew tired of the TV treadmill and decided to head north of the border to Los Angeles in search of Hollywood's promised land.

She says: "I didn't want to do soaps all my life. It's very sad - the best Mexican actors, brilliant people, they live in little tiny houses and have no money.

"So, I gambled and started all over again."

Unable to speak English, she enrolled in intensive lessons in English and acting, and gritted her teeth through the tough transition from Mexican soap goddess to struggling Hollywood wannabe. …

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