By Tessa Petak, InStyle
Salma Hayek has been dreaming large and shooting for the stars ever since she was a little kid. But acting wasn’t always her passion – actually, it hasn’t really ever been her passion.On this week’s episode of Ladies First with Laura Brown the actress is opening up about things that shaped her life. Not all of them are what you’d expect. For example, one critical moment in her self growth came from gymnastics. At just 9 years old, the Oscar-nominated actress was told she had a chance of making it to the Olympics. “A man approach my father and said, ‘Your daughter has the potential to go to the Olympics and actually even maybe win,'” she tells InStyle’s editor in chief.
That would’ve required Hayek shipping off to a boarding school away from home, and ultimately her father said no. She continues, “I was devastated. He said that he didn’t want to take away my childhood, but I didn’t want a childhood. I just wanted to do that. So I think that really marked me. I decided to get out of my town and do something with my life and dream big, you know?”
While acting was the avenue that eventually fulfilled her drive, she admits it’s peripheral to her passion in the industry. “When I went into acting – which I love acting – I figured it out many years later, my passion was movies. It was not acting.”
It’s safe to say her dreams of making it “big” have been surpassed over and over again. But her journey there wasn’t without difficulty. Being a Latina woman in ’90s Hollywood certainly came with its share of difficulties and discrimination.
“I think that at the time, people were not ready to acknowledge or give credit to a Latin woman, even if they saw it, even if they knew it, even if it was indisputable,” she says. “I felt a little bit like we were all missing out, not just me. Not just because they were not hiring me, but they care a lot about money, and they were missing out on a huge market.”
She continued, “I’m really proud of what I did, because if I had gotten angry, if I had given up, if I had gotten bitter, then maybe what’s happening today, maybe it wouldn’t have happened.” What’s happening today is a major career renaissance for Hayek, who talks in her cover shoot for the July 2021 issue of InStyle about returning to her action-heroine roots, now, in her 50s.
Luckily she had a few Latina friends and peers in the industry to act as allies and go through it together, like Penélope Cruz and Jennifer Lopez. “Jennifer, Penélope, and I were allies from the beginning,” she explains. “Jennifer is a different kind of personality, but she’s an incredibly hard worker, but it’s just a different type of personality. Penelope and I still have the club.”
The two stars have fostered a strong relationship that has stood the test of time (and Hollywood pressures) and remain friends to this day.
“She calls any given moment,” she says. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the entire world that can understand what I’ve gone through professionally as an immigrant in another country. No one in the world can understand me like Penélope.”
Click here to read the full article on InStyle.