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Salma Hayek

Salma HayekSalma Valgarma Hayek Jiménez-Pinault (born September 2, 1966) is a Mexican American actress, director and producer. Hayek is the first Mexican national to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She is one of the most prominent Mexican figures in Hollywood since silent film actress Dolores del Río. She is also, after Fernanda Montenegro, the second of three Latin American actresses (the other being Catalina Sandino Moreno) to achieve a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Hayek was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, the daughter of Diana Jiménez Medina, an opera singer and talent scout, and Sami Hayek Dominguez, an oil company executive who once ran for mayor of Coatzacoalcos. Hayek's father is of Lebanese descent, while her mother is of Spanish descent. Her first given name, Salma, is Arabic for "peace". Raised in a wealthy, devoutly Roman Catholic family, she was sent to the Academy of the Sacred Heart, New Orleans, Louisiana, at the age of twelve. While there, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. She attended college in Mexico City, where she studied International Relations at the Universidad Iberoamericana.

At the age of 23, Hayek landed the title role in Teresa (1989), a successful Mexican telenovela that made her a star in Mexico. In 1994, Hayek starred in the film El Callejón de los Milagros (Miracle Alley), which has won more awards than any other movie in the history of Mexican cinema. For her performance, Hayek was nominated for an Ariel Award.

Hayek moved to Los Angeles, California in 1991 to study acting under Stella Adler. She had limited fluency in English, which was attributed to her suffering from dyslexia. Robert Rodriguez and his producer wife Elizabeth Avellan soon gave Hayek the break she needed, a starring role opposite Antonio Banderas in 1995's Desperado. The movie caught Hollywood's attention, as moviegoers proved to be dazzled by Hayek as Rodriguez had been. Due to Hayek's loyalty to the director, she would later decline playing the role Catherine Zeta-Jones eventually took in The Mask of Zorro after Rodriguez abandoned the project. She also appeared in the Spy Kids trilogy.

Hayek had a starring part opposite Matthew Perry in the romantic comedy Fools Rush In. She followed her success in Desperado with a brief but memorable role as a vampire queen in From Dusk Till Dawn, in which she performed a table-top snake dance. In 1999, she co-starred in Will Smith's big-budget Wild Wild West, and played a supporting role in Kevin Smith's Dogma. In 2000, Hayek had an uncredited acting part opposite Benicio del Toro in Traffic. In 2003, she reprised her role from Desperado by appearing in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the final film of the Mariachi Trilogy.