Actress Salma Hayek opened up to Variety about her experiences with discrimination in Hollywood at the beginning of her career - over her Mexican roots.
Within the interview, Hayek stated that she recalled how she did well on auditions for two comedy movies, but it wasn’t given to her because of her heritage.
“I remember there were two big comedies I auditioned for the lead. Afterwards, the directors told me that I was the best audition and that I was better than who they cast and that they regretted it. But at the time, they knew the studios wouldn’t have gone for a Mexican as the lead,” she told Variety.
Hayek was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and had already found stardom in Mexico. She also noted that she knew the studios understood this but they didn’t embrace the Latino market at the time.
Hayek even mentioned the 2002 film Frida, in which Hayek was nominated for the titular role. The film chronicled the life of surrealist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. It did really well in the box office, yet it didn’t sway the studios into giving her lead roles.
She not only faced prejudice for her ancestry, but she also faced roadblocks for being a woman in the entertainment industry.
“If you are a woman and you are in a movie that is very successful, and they say you are their favorite character, they will still give all credits of the box office to the guy,” she said.
The discourse of Hollywood needing more representation of people in films and receiving awards has always been criticized by those who recognize it.
Despite some strides in films such as Black Panther and Birds of Prey, to name a couple, there is still a long road ahead when it comes to seeing more examples of marginalized groups of people.
Hayek is set to have a starring role in Marvel’s upcoming film Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao and will be released in November 2021. The film centers around a group of immortals living on Earth, and Hayek is the leader, Ajak.
It will feature Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, and Kumail Nanjani, to name a few, and will be really diverse.
Hayek also spoke about her experience in the pandemic, catching a near-fatal case of Covid-19. She spent nearly seven weeks in an isolated room of her house and had to be put on oxygen at one point.
She hasn’t regained her full energy since then.
“My doctor begged me to go to the hospital because it was so bad. ‘I said, ‘No, thank you. I’d rather die at home.”
Next month, Hayek will be back on the screen as Sonia Kincaid alongside Samuel Jackson and Ryan Reynolds in the action-comedy Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. It is a sequel to The Hitman’s Bodyguard, released in 2017.
Variety also states that Sonia was only on the screen for two minutes in the first film. The director Patrick Hughes told the outlet that the character would have a more extensive role, saying, “everyone kept telling me they wanted to see and know more about Sonia.”
Check out Salma Hayek’s full interview with Variety here.