Salma Hayek says she was warned her 'career would die': 'They told me a Mexican is never going to make it'

Megan Johnson
·3 min read
Salma Hayek, 54, reflected on being told both her age and her Mexican nationality would prevent her from finding success as an actress. (Photo: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Salma Hayek, 54, reflected on being told both her age and her Mexican nationality would prevent her from finding success as an actress. (Photo: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Salma Hayek says she was told that both her age and her nationality would exclude her from finding success as an actress.

“They told me my career would die mid-30s. First of all, they told me a Mexican is never going to make it, because at the time, the new generations, it was impossible for a Mexican to have a leading role in Hollywood,” Hayek, who stars opposite Owen Wilson in the new film Bliss, told the PA news agency. “And it was like it was not real — it was like this strange reality that now has become a normality. But not at the time.”

Now 54, Hayek says she’s thrilled to have triumphed in a challenging industry.

“And I think it’s great, I’m proud of it, I want to shout it to the world, because I was told so many times it couldn’t happen and I almost believed them but I fought it and I won,” said Hayek, adding that she also wants other women to understand that it’s OK to bloom later in life.

“I want other women to realize that, because even in your 30s you feel the pressure, in your 40s you feel the pressure — and late blooming, it’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “And we’re not ‘over’ at this time, or at another time. If you’re creative and enthusiastic and curious about life, life can be exciting forever, the entire time.”

One of the horrific challenges Hayek faced in the film industry includes her experience working with Harvey Weinstein on her 2002 hit film, Frida. Last week, Hayek told the Evening Standard that while the opportunity to work with Weinstein first seemed to be “a dream come true,” it soon turned into a nightmare. In the past, she has shared that Weinstein repeatedly sexually harassed her, and even threatened her with violence.

“He was my monster,” she wrote in the New York Times back in 2017, claiming Weinstein once told her "I will kill you, don't think I can't."

Nearly a year since Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault, Hayek now says dealing with the trauma of her experience has been an ongoing journey.

“The amazing thing is that I thought I had healed,” she told the Evening Standard. “And then everything came out again and I realized I didn’t heal, I repressed and I coped, I adjusted, I went on, so there was a layer of healing because it didn’t stop me from growing. But it was very painful for a long time. I didn’t know there were so many other women affected and that it went so deep. It was very shocking. But the fact that we [took action] together made it really healing.”

Hayek added that she has “moved on,” because “I lived with that for long enough and I detach myself from it now.”

Thriving these days, Hayek is busy both on and off the movie screen. She has a 13-year-old daughter, Valentina, with her husband, businessman François-Henri Pinault. She also shares her life on social media, which includes frequently posting sultry photographs of herself basking in the sunshine — something she finds “liberating.” She has admitted, however, that while she enjoys posting shots of herself, they’re not exactly a realistic depiction of her daily life.

"I'm glad I took a lot of pictures, I have no shame on it, because it was the first week of the vacation," she told Entertainment Tonight last week. "People are sick of it but I'm going to let them take a break. They're going to think I'm wearing a bikini every day. No, they're all from the same location."

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