Scintillating Facts About Salma Hayek, Hollywood's Legendary Latina

September 5, 2023 | Brendan Da Costa

Scintillating Facts About Salma Hayek, Hollywood's Legendary Latina

Salma Hayek is a Mexican-born actress, producer and philanthropist. Known as much for her talents as for her breathtaking good looks, the actress’ films have dazzled audiences and stunned critics. But there’s more to this Hollywood bombshell than meets the eye. Her love life has been equal parts fairytale and scandal, and that's just the beginning. Here are some scintillating facts about Salma Hayek.

1. She Was “Scouted” From A Young Age

Salma Hayek was born in the beautiful coastal city of Coatzacoalcos—or simply “Coatza” if you’re feeling tongue-tied. Her father was a successful businessman who ran for mayor of Coatzacoalcos but it was her mother who got young Hayek started. She was an opera singer and talent scout. Needless to say, she didn’t have to go far to scout out her daughter's talent.


2. She Was An “Ugly Duckling”

Salma Hayek didn’t always have her stunning good looks. When Hayek was a child, her grandmother employed an unusual method to ensure that she would grow up to be beautiful. Apparently, her grandmother used to shave the hairs of her head and eyebrows right off to encourage them to grow back thicker. Thanks a lot, Abuela.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

3. She Has A Disability

Even before she had to learn a second language, Salma Hayek always had difficulty reading. Hayek discovered that she suffered from ADHD and a disability called dyslexia. Between the two, she struggled with focusing and processing languages. Her diagnoses didn't make high school any easier, and then things took another turn for the worse.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

4. She Was Expelled

Stay in school, kids. It’s what we’ve all been told. Salma Hayek must have somehow missed that memo. The actress got herself expelled from high school for what some sources describe as “antics.” Apparently, she enjoyed playing pranks on the nuns. I don’t know what kinds of pranks Hayek pulled on her instructors but I do know the kinds of pranks that were pulled on her...

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

5. She Wasn’t Clean & Clear & Under Control

If you pull up a picture of Salma Hayek nowadays, you’ll never believe that she used to suffer from an embarrassing condition. In her twenties, Hayek’s skin was anything but clean and clear and under control. She was plagued by acne so severe that it actually drove her into a depressive spiral. If her beauty doesn't prove that good things come to those who wait, I don't know what does.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

6. She Was A Soap Star

Hayek finally got her big break in the film and television industry even before she moved to Hollywood. The actress landed a starring role in the Mexican telenovela series, Teresa. She portrayed an intelligent and beautiful upstart. Wait a, was she even acting? But, clearly, no one in Mexico doubted her talents…

Salma Hayek FactsTeresa (1989-1990), Televisa

7. She Was A Mexican Legend

Most people think that Hayek’s biggest film is Frida. But few people know that before she made her way to the City of Stars, she conquered Mexican cinema. Hayek landed the leading role in the most award film in Mexican history: El Callejón de los Milagros. Figuring that she probably couldn't top that, Hayek looked for another challenge and moved to Hollywood in 1991.

Salma Hayek FactsEl callejón de los milagros, Alameda Films

8. She Studied With The Best

One would imagine that, with Hayek’s credentials, she would have strolled into LAX like a queen. Instead, Hayek found herself at the bottom of the pecking order. As she got to work re-studying acting with a famous coach, Hayek also enjoyed the Los Angeles night life, where she had a disturbing encounter with one of the most famous men in the world.

Salma Hayek FactsWikimedia Commons

9. She Almost Dated A POTUS

Imagine this: First Lady Salma...Trump! That’s right, very early in her career Salma Hayek almost ended up in a relationship with Donald Trump. The billionaire-turned-president apparently tried to pull out all of the moves to woo Hayek. While they attended a swanky party, he noticed Hayek was cold and draped his jacket over her shoulders to keep her warm. But not all his gestures were so charming.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

10. She’s Not A Cheater

So, one thing I didn’t mention was that, according to Hayek, Trump was hitting on her when she already had a boyfriend. You might say, how was he to know that? Well, if you believe Hayek, Trump actually used her boyfriend to get her phone number and ask her out. When she showed up, he allegedly told her, “He’s not good enough for you. Not important. He’s not important, he’s not big enough for you. You have to go out with me.” And the story continues...

Salma Hayek FactsWikimedia Commons

11. He Didn't Take No For An Answer

Needless to say, Hayek wasn’t about to cheat on her boyfriend with Donald Trump. But it doesn’t seem like Donald Trump was about to give up that easily. Hayek believes that Trump had stories planted in the news to make her come around to him. One even said that he refused to date her because she was too short. And when that failed, he didn’t take it well at all.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

12. She Got Stood Up

Years after all this drama, Trump spent an astonishing $145,000 at an auction—just so he could have lunch with Salma Hayek. And then, when the time for the big date finally came, Trump stood Hayek up. I guess you can't put a price on belated revenge?

US Presidents factsGetty Images

13. She Had Potential…But

To be honest, there wasn’t much holding Hayek back from making it big in Hollywood. She was intelligent, she was young, she was attractive, she had experience. So…what gives? Even major studio heads told Hayek that she could have been the biggest star in Hollywood. There was just one little problem—and when Hayek heard what it was, she felt like screaming.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

14. She Was A...Maid?

According to Hayek in an interview with Vanity Fair, the studio heads said to her something along the lines of, “You could have been the biggest star in America, but you were born in the wrong country. You can never be a leading lady, because we can’t take the risk of you opening your mouth and people thinking of their maids.” Rude.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

15. Her Looks Garnered Attention

Salma Hayek’s stunning good looks are—and have been for decades now—world famous. It’s not surprising then what happened on the set of her first major Hollywood film. Hayek had a love scene with the equally steamy Antonio Banderas in 1995’s Desperado. Suffice to say, the cameras weren’t the only ones who showed up to catch the sultry scene…

Salma Hayek FactsDesperado (1995), Columbia Pictures

16. She Drew Crowds

There’s a unique bond that forms between the cast and crew of a film. Sometimes that bond is a little…too close. While on the set of Desperado, the entire crew showed up to watch the filming of Banderas and Hayek’s love scene. Fortunately, only essential crew members and the cameras actually saw the scene—before audiences all over the world.

Salma Hayek FactsDesperado (1995), Columbia Pictures

17. She’s Definitely House Slytherin

Hot off the heels of her performance in Desperado, Salma Hayek next had a pivotal role in the Quentin Tarantino classic, From Dusk Till Dawn. In the now iconic scene, the actress appeared and performed a scintillating dance with a snake. There was just one caveat. One not-so-small, scaly, slithering caveat with fangs...really pointy fangs.

Salma Hayek FactsFrom Dusk till Dawn (1996), Dimension Films

18. She Was Ophidiophobic

Spiders, sharks and, gulp, snakes. These are all things that I just don’t do…and neither does Salma Hayek. The actress had a terrible case of ophidiophobia—a.k.a. a very sane, perfectly normal fear of those sickening, slithering scaley serpents. So how does someone with ophidiophobia end up filming a scene in which they dance with one of those serpents?

Cruelest thingsWikimedia Commons

19. She Was Tricked

Because there was simply no way that Salma Hayek—or any rational human being—would agree to film a dance scene with a snake, From Dusk Till Dawn’s producer had to get creative…by lying. The film’s producer tricked Hayek into taking the role and she had to spend months in therapy to overcome her fear—a.k.a. perfectly rational feelings. But the trick did work…

Jamie Lee Curtis FactsShutterstock

20. She Improved The Dance

You would hope that, if you had to do a dance with a snake, someone would have planned the whole thing out. I mean down to the very second that the director yells “Cut!” and you can chuck the thing and run. Unfortunately for Salma Hayek, her memorable table-top snake dance consisted of exactly zero choreography. The film’s producer simply told her to “feel the music”…and the scales of the snake slithering all over.

Salma Hayek FactsFrom Dusk till Dawn (1996), Dimension Films

21. She Was A Third Draft Pick

Hayek’s next big role would come in 1999’s Wild Wild West. However, the role was almost destined for someone else. The film’s creators originally offered it to Jennifer Lopez, only to be turned down. Then, they offered the part to Penelope Cruz, who had to pass because of a scheduling conflict. After Cruz didn't work out, Hayek stepped in—but in time, she'd wish she'd turned it down too...

Salma Hayek FactsWild Wild West (1999), Warner Bros.

22. She Was Underused

Hayek’s major role in the much-maligned Wild Wild West is one of the low-points in Hayek's stellar career. She, and the rest of the starring cast, were not exactly happy with the final product when it screened in theatres all over the world. Hayek’s major complaint was that she felt underutilized. With this, we can all agree.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

23. She Became A Producer

Salma Hayek learned from her experience on the set of Wild Wild West—and her earlier run-ins with studio heads—that if she wanted better parts, she would have to produce them herself. So, she did what any superwoman would do…the actress started up her own production company! And she hit the ground running. The company’s first production was Mexico’s official selection for submission to the Oscars.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

24. She Played An Icon

Hayek wasted to no time producing films with better roles that would showcase the full scope of her talents and cultural heritage. She produced and starred in the critically acclaimed film Frida about the artist Frida Kahlo. Though the movie was a huge success for Hayek, even winning her an Oscar nomination, behind the scenes, production was a nightmare.

Frida Kahlo FactsFrida, Miramax

25. A Producer Targeted Her

Like so many Hollywood actresses in the 1990s and 2000s, Salma Hayek had to deal with harassment from Harvey Weinstein. During the early years of her career, the producer would show up at her hotel rooms without any warning, then pressure her into taking showers with him, receiving massages from him, and far worse. While making Frida, his behavior became more chilling than ever.

Kate Beckinsale factsGetty Images

26. An Enemy Tried To Destroy Her Career

Back in the early 2000s, Weinstein was the head of Miramax, the studio producing Frida. At first, Hayek felt thrilled about working with him, but as time passed and the mogul realized Hayek wouldn't sleep with him, he began to lash out. He started by trying to push Hayek out of the movie—saying he had offered the lead role to someone else. From there, things only got worse.

Salma Hayek FactsGetty Images

27. He Made Outrageous Demands

In an effort to push Hayek out of the project, the producer gave her a list of outrageous demands. He hoped that she'd fail to meet them, which would give him an excuse to boot her from her own movie. If Hayek didn't raise $10,000,000 dollars, get an A-list director, rewrite the script for free, and cast four more A-list actors, he'd can the movie. Little did he know, Hayek was a fighter.

The Fast And The Furious factsShutterstock

28. She Defied The Odds

Despite being a relatively new actress in Hollywood, Hayek managed to meet these ridiculous demands. She somehow convinced a roster of A-list talent to join the project, forcing the mogul to keep his promise and make the movie happen. Unfortunately, her victory was short-lived. The powerful producer simply took out his anger on Hayek during filming.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

29. He Threatened Her

According to Hayek's emotional piece in The New York Times, Weinstein once threatened her life. He allegedly told her, "I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.”

Ben Affleck FactsGetty Images

30. He Threw A Fit

While filming Frida, Hayek remembers how Weinstein would show up without warning and scream about the movie's endless faults. According to him, Hayek couldn't act, her character's iconic unibrow was unsightly, and she was an "incompetent" producer. Once, he even ordered everyone on set to leave, so he could provide his most cutting remark to Hayek in private.

Salma Hayek FactsFrida, Miramax

31. She Was Insulted

Once everyone was gone, the producer revealed what he really thought of Hayek. Apparently, she was only as good as her physical appearance. Weinstein believed that if Hayek wasn't going to look conventionally beautiful in Frida, the movie was already a failure. As such, he had no choice but to cut his loses and close down production on the half-filmed movie. Hayek was distraught—and then he gave her an ultimatum that would haunt her forever.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

32. She Could Have Been Even Bigger

Hayek had a horrible experience on the prestige project of Frida, but thankfully, Hollywood is just as chalk-full of great, open-minded creatives as it is full of out-of-touch studio executives. Alfred Molina, one of Hayek’s Frida co-stars, said of her, “If Salma were white and male, she’d be bigger than Harvey.” Well put, Molina.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

33. She Was A “Ball-Breaker”

Salma Hayek’s genius was so obvious from the moment she arrived in Hollywood that even her enemy, Harvey Weinstein, had to agree with Molina’s statement. The now-disgraced Hollywood producer had some high praise for Hayek later on in her career. He called the actress-turned-producer a real “ball-breaker.”

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

34. She Dated The Incredible Hulk

Frida wasn't just fruitful for Salma Hayek's career. It was also a labor of love that allowed her to work with her then-boyfriend Edward Norton. While Hayek went through torment in pre-production, Norton stepped up to help his lady. He rewrote the movie's entire script for free. Though he never received credit, Hayek recently revealed Norton's help, calling her ex an “angel.”

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

35. She Dated A Rom-Com Heartthrob

One of Salma Hayek’s former beaux is someone you’ll recognize...and then wonder why these two couldn’t make it work. Hollywood observers spotted Hayek strolling hand-in-hand with Josh Lucas, the king of early 2000s rom-coms. Sadly, the couple only lasted one year, which is short even in celebrity dating years. And the reason for their break-up is just heartbreaking…

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

36. She Couldn’t Get Off The Treadmill

With Salma Hayek’s career taking off both in front of and behind the camera, it’s to wonder where she found the time for a boyfriend. And Josh Lucas was wondering the same thing. After just one year, the couple headed to splitsville. In an interview with GQ, Lucas put it this way, “women of a certain age oftentimes feel they need to stay on the treadmill—the figurative treadmill. If both people are working, it's a problem.”

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

37. She Continued To Face Discrimination

Just because she became a bona fide mega star and producer doesn’t mean that Hayek stopped facing discrimination. Adam Sandler recruited Hayek to take a starring role in the film Grown Ups. While Sandler might have been happy with the casting decision, the studio executives were, uh, less than comfortable with the decision…

Grown Ups 3 EditorialGrown Ups, Columbia Pictures

38. She Had A Strong Ally

After learning that Adam Sandler had cast Hayek for Grown Ups, the studio executives had some…input of their own. Apparently, the executives asked for someone “less ethnic” to take on Hayek’s role. Sandler replied simply by stating that he had already offered the role to Hayek and warned them never to bring it up again. Go Sand-Man!

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

39. She’s “Cringe-Worthy”

In an interview with People magazine Salma Hayek said, “I'm not a feminist. If men were going through the things women are going through today, I would be fighting for them with just as much passion. I believe in equality.” Those beautiful words didn’t sit well with E! Online, however, and they called her comments “cringe-worthy.”

Terry Crews factsShutterstock

40. She Is Down With Feminism

Hayek later clarified her comments in an interview with The Guardian. She said, “I am a feminist because I love women and I am ready to fight for women…But – it should not be just because I am a woman.” After all, being a feminist is about what you do, not just what you say and how you say it. And let’s just say that Hayek is all about action…

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

41. She’s Got Milk

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done on vacation? Skydive? Snorkel, maybe? How about breastfeed? While on a trip with UNICEF to Sierra Leone, Salma Hayek did exactly that. Nightline, who followed Hayek on the trip, filmed the actress breastfeeding a week-old infant. Oh, and just wait until you hear the reason why she did it…

Salma Hayek FactsGetty Images

42. She Was “Handing” Out Lunch

Hayek didn’t just go to Sierra Leone to give out free breastmilk. The mother of the infant she fed was incapable of producing any milk of her own so Hayek stepped in to do the motherly thing. She allowed Nightline to film her heroics because she wanted to reduce the stigma around breastfeeding and, of course, to give wee one some lunch. Now, that’s a superwoman.

Salma Hayek FactsFlickr

43. She Was Stalked

In 2015, the world learned that being Salma Hayek wasn't all glitz and glam. In courtroom documents, it came out that Hayek was being stalked and harassed by a deranged woman. She would impersonate Hayek, try to contact her family, and follow the star around. In the end, Hayek was so afraid that she had to file a restraining order against her pursuer.

Salma Hayek FactsGetty Images

44. She Married Rich…Really Rich

Donald Trump is rich. Like, really rich. But when Salma Hayek did finally decide to tie the knot, she managed to snag someone even richer. In 2009, Hayek tied the proverbial knot with a charming Frenchman. You may have heard of him. His name is Francois-Henri Pinault and Forbes estimates his net worth at around $44.1 billion. That’s many multiples more money than Trump.

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

45. She Keeps Getting Better

Hayek did get married much later in life than most but that’s only because she was busy being superwoman and punching through glass ceilings. Even though she had to wait, Hayek eventually gave birth to a baby girl—at the age of 41! While Hayek adores her daughter and calls motherhood "fulfilling," few people know that her pregnancy was part of a Hollywood scandal.

Salma Hayek FactsGetty Images

46. She Has Odd Pets

Hayek’s motherly instincts don’t just end with infants in need of a meal. Oh, no, no. Her motherly instincts extend to all…animals included. Hayek claims to have had more than 50 pets in her life—and we’re not just talking dogs and cats. The actress has even had alpacas! Most of the animals were rescues and Hayek claims that they “always find me.” Sure…

Wes Anderson FactsPxfuel

47. She Doesn't Tolerate Fools

Hayek is one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, but even she has haters. When one of her old boyfriends caressed her, he said "You're beautiful, but you're soft." Hayek responded by saying the exact right thing: "Very nice to have met you. Goodbye!" In interviews, Hayek often repeats similar credos, saying that Hollywood and society in general are far too hard on women's bodies. Preach, Salma!

Salma Hayek FactsShutterstock

48. There Was Another Woman

During Hayek's courtship with her now-husband Francois-Henri Pinault, the couple apparently went through a rough patch. While they were on a break, it seemed like Pinault rebounded with another famously beautiful woman: the supermodel Linda Evangelista. She gave birth to Pinault's son Augustin. Just a few months later, Hayek gave birth to Pinault's daughter. Yeah, it's not the cleanest timeline.

Salma Hayek FactsGetty Images

49. She Had A Tough Choice

We already know that making Frida was a nightmare, but here's what Hayek says was the very worst part. Eventually, Hayek realized that the only way she could finish making her passion project was by bending to Harvey Weinstein's will. He absolutely demanded that the movie spice things up with an intimate scene between Salma Hayek and Ashley Judd. Defeated, Hayek conceded and agreed to shoot the scene. The finished product was sensual, but the actual filming experience was horrific.

Salma Hayek FactsFrida, Miramax

50. She Had A Breakdown

According to Hayek, the scene gave her a "nervous breakdown." She took rapid, gulping breaths, she sobbed uncontrollably, and couldn't stop shaking. Soon, Hayek was so distraught that she began to vomit. Eventually, the only way she could calm down was by being sedated with a tranquilizer. Yeah...that's pretty dang far from romantic.

Salma Hayek FactsGetty Images

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

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