Before you do anything, think. If you do something to try and impress someone, to be loved, accepted or even to get someone's attention, stop and think. So many people are busy trying to create an image, they die in the process. Sleeping with the wrong person is one thing, but not using a condom because you want to please someone, or because you're in a romantic bubble, is another. … I wish we weren't so busy trying to impress people.
It's very easy to feel someone's pain when you love them.
"Conversation with Salma Hayek" (2002)
The biggest thing [Frida] brought into my life was this peacefulness. I still get passionate about things, but my passion is not so scattered and it's not needy. It's a lot more powerful because it comes with this groundedness and peacefulness. That it's about the process, not about the results.
I came here and realized how truly limited my English was, and it was very scary. I soon realized it wasn't going to be hard to learn — it was going to be nearly impossible. My accent was horrible. In Mexico, nobody says, "You speak English with a good accent." You either speak English or you don't: As long as you can communicate, no one cares. But the word accent became such a big word in my life. And they thought I was crazy in Mexico when I said, "I'm going to Hollywood." Nobody thought I could make it.
I also was afraid I was a very bad actress, because I'd become famous very fast and was making money for people. When you're making money, they're never going to tell you whether you're good or bad. They don't care. I knew that if I had any talent, this would kill it. I never wanted to be a famous bad actress!
I wanted to have a voice, and it was okay if I wasn't going to be so famous or so rich. And this the one thing I learned: How do you recognize what's your true dream and what is the dream that you are dreaming for other people to love you? … The difference is very easy to understand. If you enjoy the process, it's your dream. … If you are enduring the process, just desperate for the result, it's somebody else's dream.
I'd hear, "Because they paid the man, there's no money for the woman." How many times do you think I heard this? Over and over. Then I became a sex symbol. Now, how the hell did that happen? I don't exactly know the moment when it happened, but all of a sudden I'm a bombshell. The way I discovered this was I did Desperado. I had a very hard time with the love scene. I cried throughout the love scene. That's why you never see long pieces of the love scene — it's little pieces cut together. I'm crying most of the time so they have to take little pieces. It took eight hours instead of an hour. I nearly got fired. … Because I didn't want to be naked in front of a camera. The whole time, I'm thinking of my father and my brother... And then when the movie comes out, I read the first review. What do they say about me. "Salma Hayek is a bombshell." I had heard that when a movie does badly here, they say it bombs. So I'm crying. Thinking they're saying, "That terrible actress! It's a bomb! Salma Hayek is the worst part of the movie!" I called my friend and said, "The critics are destroying me!" She says, "No, they're saying you're very sexy." And then I look at all the reviews, and everybody said I was very sexy. So I'm very confused. I said, "I wonder if that's good or bad." I hear, "Yes, that's good." Then I do Fools Rush In, and I'm a pregnant woman. And they say I'm sexy again! I go, "But I'm pregnant!" I'm not even naked in this movie, and they still say I'm sexy. And then it became very depressing — I thought, I guess I'm reduced to that now. That's all I am in the perception of these people.
It's good to be sexy, but when that's all they can see — no.
The perception of you is one thing. You're this famous person, and now you're this famous person who's a bombshell. So all of a sudden, that's the only way I get jobs. So I have to become the part. And they're telling you this is the way to do it. One director actually said to me, "I want to hear you talk dumber and faster." … He thought it was funny for the girl to be dumb. I finally said, "That's it, man — I can't do this anymore." I'd go to meetings during the filming of a movie, and the directors would ask, "What do you think of the script?" I'd say, "It has a lot of problems." They were confused. That's not what they wanted from me. … So I was not very popular. At one point I said, "I don't want to do this — it's not my dream." And so I said, "I'm going to start a company. I am going to create projects for me. I'm going to create projects for other Latin women." Because I got to a point where I was whining all the time. I was miserable. I was desperate
I had an acting teacher who once told me that you could never really create from comfort. To do well as an actress, you have to push yourself to the edge. When you're comfortable, you're still on your ass. Sometimes we sit on our ass even with things we don't like. The whining, the crying, the becoming the victim, the this-town-doesn't-like-me-because-I'm-Mexican could've all made me say, "That's it — racism takes care of all my problems." … I think that's why it's harder for us to succeed, because we have a beautiful, comfortable crutch. It's right there, available.
I had been already trying to do Frida, but I would sit on my sorrows because it was so difficult. But now I was learning new things. And so I thought, this is what I want to do. I want to do one movie that if I die the next day, I know I left one thing in this world that I was very proud of, that other people can see, that meant something to me, that had my voice. Because God forbid I die tomorrow, I'm the bombshell for the rest of my existence. … Then I became very angry I said, I have become what they decided I am. When did I fall in this trap? Somebody decided I was this, and I became that. And I said, "I'm going to change it now. I'm going to define myself."
You have to be able to walk away from a relationship when it's time to walk away —and you have to teach your children this. It's the best way to love your children, because then they'll learn this from you — that you had the courage to walk away from a relationship when you were unhappy. You have to do what you have to do. And the children have to understand it. I think we have to teach this to our boys and our girls when they are young — 11, 12. They need to understand that you got in a situation when you were too young, when you didn't understand what you wanted, and because you listened to everyone else. Your children may not listen to you — so you also have to be brave enough to respect their dreams. … I think everybody knows this. We have an uncomfortable feeling for situations we are in, but we don't understand why we are uncomfortable. And then we want to know what would be the other option.
I've learned from others' lives... What works in a relationship of very public people is not making the relationship public — keeping it as personal as it can be. It's the only way it is real. I am suspicious of those who have to let the world know how much they love each other. It's a little sad when you have to brag about how much you love someone. That kind of declaration doesn't always reflect the moment of truth between two people who care deeply for each other. When that truth is there, you don't need others to know it. And when somebody truly loves you, you don't even need him or her to be affectionate. Affection is fantastic, but it doesn't necessarily mean there's love — and the public display of affection is often just a show.
When you open a door for others to have an opinion on your relationship, it can be dangerous. Find what you need, not what everyone else wants for you. Women have been taught that in order to have a place in the world, an identity, they must marry and have children. If that's the life you truly want, great. But for many women, marriage is only about needing the world to know that someone desires them enough to say, "Here's a contract to prove that I love you and will commit to you for the rest of my life." For these women, no contract equals no validation — and, thus, no reason for existing.
It's nice to have a relationship, but women have become addicted. You can have a relationship with God. With nature. With dogs. With yourself. And yes, you can also have a relationship with a man, but if it's going to be a shitty one, it's better to have a relationship with your flowers. I know so many lonely women who are married! You have to know the worth of your existence regardless of a man, regardless of an emotional love affair, even regardless of a career. Why should these things validate you as a human being?
Every day, I define myself. I know who I am today. I don't promise you anything for tomorrow — we can have an interview and that's completely different!
And you know what else? I am grateful to the bombshell because if it hadn't gotten me where it had gotten me, I wouldn't be where I am today. But this bombshell thing; it's old now. It served me. And I got out of it in time to keep from serving it. I used to think, I can't wait until 35, when people think I'm too old to be a bombshell. Maybe I'll get the good parts. But it wouldn't have happened that way. … Just because your boobs are saggy doesn't mean you get great roles. You're disposable.
As important as it is for the producers to pay more attention to the female roles, it's more important for us to take control over this situation and define who we are. Because if they just give us the parts, it's their point of view of who we are. What's important is that we define who we are and don't wait for the men to give us the roles.
I'm very lucky I didn't have it easy, because I've learned so much from having to figure out everything on my own and create things for myself. Now I can teach what I've learned to the next generation. I'm not just going to be the pretty face that disappears. I've learnt how to produce, to direct, to write. I'm not disposable so easily anymore. When I am 60, I can keep directing. I have the potential to really, truly have a voice that makes a difference.
I wanted to win it for one specific reason — to send the Oscar to the Frida Kahlo House in Mexico, where Frida herself once lived. It's going to bring a tear to my eye now. I wanted every Mexican who walked into that museum to remember that what motivated me to make this movie, to dream this dream, had everything to do with where I came from — and I didn't stop dreaming until I finished the film. But the dream was the movie, not the Oscar.
At night I wake up and think, What color will make me feel better when I soak in the bathtub for an hour? I want everyone who's dreaming of a glamorous life to know that I'd trade a good bath any day for the heels, the hair, the makeup, the tight dresses, the photographs, the small talk.
Isn't it sad? In our world, women also don't support other women enough — how often do we really work together to make a difference? We are sometimes so vicious toward one another. We want to be independent women, but we really don't know who we are as women. It's about us taking control, because we tend to just blame. We complain about the world, but we are still not loving toward other women.
Because there was no industry or parts for Latin women when I came here, there was really no competitiveness. Jennifer Lopez and I were the first, and I think Jennifer was my partner at the beginning. I think it was important for others to see two of us, because maybe then we could be thought of as a social phenomenon. Because she doesn't have a foreign accent, Jennifer tried out for parts I couldn't get. There are now others with accents — Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas — but mind you, Antonio and Penelope are from Europe, not Mexico. It's only now that the taboo on Mexicans is lifting as Americans realize we're a little bit more than migrant workers. I hear some Latinos say, "Oh, no, no, no, the cliché that we are gang members, that's so bad — we have to show everyone that we're family people." Hello? That's another cliché! It's getting yourself out of one box to put yourself in another. The way to fight a cliché is not by creating another one. What breaks the cliché is the emergence of strong individuals. That's the way to say, "You don't really know us — so when you look at me, or when you look at my sister, just be completely open for whatever. You have no clue who we are!"
Here people don't know what box to put me into. I'm not from the Bronx, I'm not from East L.A., so they don't know how to take me or what to call me!
Everyone said how tormented directors can be. I've never enjoyed something so much in my life!
Ignorance in certain places frightens me. The political situation of the world frightens me. Political anger around the globe frightens me. The lack of love in the world frightens me. Violence frightens me.
I want to direct a movie in Mexico, in Spanish. The story is about how when we're really young, our dreams are colorful and big and abstract and interesting and imaginative. As the realities of life hit, our dreams become so common. To dream big doesn't necessarily mean to imagine becoming the biggest movie star in the world. Dreaming big is about taking the simplest thing in life and enjoying it — and seeing it as the biggest thing that can possibly exist. … I work in an industry that is the first to kill this ability because everything is so celebrity oriented. I am part of a cancer. In my world, you have to be so beautiful, so skinny, so rich, so famous — and I don't believe you really have to be any of those things. You simply have to be who you are.
Yes, I'm beautiful … I am beautiful and famous — and yet the things I like about myself have nothing to do with that, because I don't use wealth and beauty to define myself. People think I'm more beautiful than I am because they see me on magazine covers — but go to nearly any town, and you'd find prettier women. And though I'm well known now, I might not be famous one day —but I'd still be happy. I do have money, but I could be richer. I just don't want to pay the price some are willing to pay to have more money. I live in a small house. I'm not the glamour girl who wears makeup every day. I live a wonderful life, and I lack for nothing. Maybe that does make it easier for me to say, "Be who you are" — but I always tell people they shouldn't be too impressed with wealth and fame. They shouldn't worship it. I am in this machine, but I haven't completely given my soul to it.
The whole society is obsessed.... I'm not complaining — I'm just saying, "Don't be too impressed with me. Don't try to dress like me or wear your hair like mine. Find your own style. Don't spend your savings trying to be someone else. You're not more important, smarter, or prettier because you wear a designer dress." I only wear the expensive clothes because I get them free and I'm too lazy to go out and look for my own. I, a rich girl from Mexico, came here with designer clothes. And one day when I was starving in an apartment in Los Angeles, I looked at my Chanel blouses and said, "If only I could pay the rent with one of these." … In those days, the rag I used to dry my dishes was more useful. Now many who start in this business come to me for advice and ask, "How do I get started?" And I have to say, "I honestly have no idea." I think it's a bunch of accidents that happen to you and somehow you survive them and take advantage of them and something magical happens — and you have an agent.
I'm going to tell you something: There's an element to that passion that I always leave out and that I have recently learned to understand, and it has helped me a lot. … I was okay if it didn't happen. … I didn't realize this before. As long as I knew I did my very, very best, I was okay. I was so okay that when I made the transition from Mexico to Los Angeles, I said to myself I have something now. Is it what I want? No. I was making money, I was an actress, and I was famous. It looked like it's what I wanted, but it was not. And I was wise enough to recognize it. It's what others would think that I'd want, and sometimes that makes you feel it's good enough... To be able to brag a lot on life — that's everybody's dream... But is it your dream? And it wasn't my dream. And so I said that I'm going to leave it. This means I go there, and maybe it doesn't happen. And I am trading this, which looks like it's great, for this nothing that could be anything. … And then I was excited about being brave about it and saying, "What I left didn't grab me by the balls."
Salma Hayek and I come from two very different worlds: She was born privileged in a small town in Mexico; I was raised poor in rural Mississippi. On the day we meet in a hilltop garden at the J. Paul Getty Museum … I'm as surprised as anyone that our connection is so instant. Who would've thought we would have so much in common? I've interviewed hundreds of people over the years, and never has a conversation resonated so strongly with me. Salma is one of the most passionate and unforgettable young women I've ever met.
You need only a few moments in Salma's presence to discover she's a woman set on defining herself — try to contain her in a box, and she'll lift off the lid, rise up, and just soar away every single time. … Her candor, her honesty, her boldness, her fire — it all made me want to be more truthful with myself. Her passion for life is positively infectious. Talk about going for it — this woman has got the "it" big time!