For decades, Salma Hayek has used her influence and platform to advocate, if imperfectly, for women and communities of color in the entertainment industry. Last year, she proved she is still the “it girl,” starring in two blockbuster films and receiving numerous accolades.
Hayek was born on September 2, 1966, in Coatzacoalcos. She began her acting career in Mexico, starring in the telenovela Teresa and the film El Callejón de los Milagros, for which she received an Ariel Award nomination.
However, her journey to Hollywood was not smooth. She faced skepticism and rejection due to her Mexican heritage and accent. She also endured sexual harassment and discrimination from powerful figures in the industry, such as Harvey Weinstein.
Despite these barriers, she persevered and gained recognition for her powerful performances in films like Desperado (1995) and Frida (2002), where she portrayed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, earning a rare-for-a-Latina Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Around that time, she founded her production company, Ventanarosa, as a response to the lack of representation and diversity in Hollywood. Ventanarosa creates opportunities for underrepresented voices, especially women and minorities, producing stories that are often overlooked or marginalized. For example, with Hayek at the helm, Ventanarosa produced The Maldonado Miracle (which Hayek won a Daytime Emmy Award for), Ugly Betty (which she received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for), and El Sabor de la Navidad (a Netflix original film that explores trans identity and acceptance).
But Hayek hasn’t always sided with underrepresented women in Hollywood. In 2016, she participated in a Sundance Film Festival luncheon meant to celebrate women in film. It turned into a heated discussion that exposed the contrasting views of Hayek and Shirley MacLaine, and Jessica Williams. The conversation revealed the intersectional complexities and tensions in today’s feminism, and the need for non-Black Latina women to asses their biases.
We hope she learned from that moment and have been happy to watch her in films like 2021’s House of Gucci and Eternals. In 2023, we loved watching her in Black Mirror’s “Joan is Awful.” Salma Hayek’s role in the episode adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, contributing to the exploration of the dark and thought-provoking themes characteristic of Black Mirror and Magic Mike’s Last Dance.
The future keeps looking bright for the star, who has two upcoming films both in the works that showcase her versatility and passion. Without Blood is a drama based on a novel by Alessandro Baricco, while Seesaw Monster is a comedy about a woman who transforms into a monster. Both films reflect Hayek’s dedication to challenging and engaging roles.
As Salma Hayek continues to break barriers, challenge stereotypes, and inspire the next generation of talent, it is evident that her influence extends far beyond the silver screen. She remains a force to be reckoned and I’m rooting for her!