By Mahlia Lone

I first saw Salma Hayek on the big screen in Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado in 1995 starring opposite Spanish heart-throb Antonio Banderas and was blown away by how smoking hot the leading couple was. Their heavily accented English, their tanned good looks, her overtly feminine curves, his Old World machismo—this film made breakout stars of all three, the actress, the actor and the director. It was a precursor to the growing significance and relevance of Spanish-speaking stars in American mainstream movies. While promoting the film, Ms. Hayek appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and said that she had given up a career as a top Mexican soap opera star to make it in Hollywood and recounted how she had driven herself over all the way from Mexico City to Los Angeles and roughed it out there. She appeared peppy, confident, ambitious, exotic and had oodles of star quality and sex appeal. Her self belief paid off. Not only did she make it in Hollywood, but also married one of the richest, most well respected men in France.

Salma Hayek was born in 1966, in the oil boomtown of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico to a wealthy Lebanese descent oil company executive and businessman Sami Hayek Dominguez Hayek and opera singing talent scout Diana Jiménez Medina of Mexican mestiza (white European), Amer-Indian and Spanish descent. Her father was of some standing in the community and even ran for Mayor of Coatzacoalcos. She and her younger brother Sami Jr. were brought up in the strict Roman Catholic faith, but Salma admitted that the two siblings were spoiled rotten by her well off parents. Sami Jr. now lives in LA and designs custom made chairs that have been bought by celebrities such as Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt. But he’s mostly known for crashing Salma’s sports car in a horrific accident that killed his friend seated in the front seat next to him.

Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) inspired young Salma to become an actress. Lagging behind in her school work, naughty little Salma at age 12 was sent to the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Grand Coteau, Louisiana, where she was diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading disability, and ADHD, an inability to focus for very long. She also routinely pulled pranks on the poor nuns. One time she set their clocks back three hours, disrupting their routine and was subsequently expelled. However, she was good at languages and grew up speaking fluent Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and English. After school, Salma attended Mexico City’s Universidad Iberoamericana to study International Relations and Drama.

In Teresa, a Mexican telenovela

After graduation, Salma landed the title role in the successful telenovela Teresa (1989) at the age of 23, making her a household name in Mexico. She said she could have comfortably rested on her laurels and been happy being a star in her home country but she had set her sights on Hollywood. So, in 1991, she got in her car and drove to Hollywood where she started taking Stella Adler’s acting class. Though a petite 5.2” curvacious bombshell, she spoke with a heavy accent and was typecast as a mistress, maid or stripper/prostitute in bit roles.

Looking back, Salma said, “I, a rich girl from Mexico, came to Hollywood with my 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.’” Feeling under pressure and unappreciated by white filmmakers, Hayek vented her frustrations in a humorous manner on comedian Paul Rodriguez’s late-night Spanish-language talk show in 1992, which filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and his producer wife Elizabeth Avellan happened to be watching. They had been looking for a Latina actress for their upcoming film Desperado and were immediately struck by this not only obviously good looking but also intelligent and opinionated young woman. Their instincts were spot on! The movie made $25 million and went on to become a cult classic. In 1994, Salma returned to Mexico to star in the film El Callejón de los Milagros (Miracle Alley), which won more awards than any other movie in the history of Mexican cinema. Rodriguez then cast her in Quentin Tarantino scripted From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) opposite George Clooney in a vampy role. In this cult classic, Hayek does a memorable sexy table top dance holding a snake, which got a lot of male pulses quickening. She made some mildly successful but forgettable romcoms in the next few years and her star graph kept steadily rising.

With her mother Diana

With Antonio Banderas in Desperado

Her snake dance in From Dusk Till Dawn

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

In Wild Wild West with Will Smith & Kevin Kline

In Bandidas with best friend Penelope Cruz

With the suave Pierce Brosnan in After the Sunset

With Colin Farrell in the mediocre tear jerker Ask the Dust

The growing distance she felt from Catholicism was highlighted by her next choice of film Dogma (1999), starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, which portrays the Roman Catholic Church in an irreverent manner. She also starred in the summer blockbuster action comedy Wild Wild West opposite Will Smith. The same year her newly formed production company Ventanarosa produced the 1999 Mexican feature film No One Writes to the Colonel (1999) that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and was selected as Mexico’s official Oscar entry for best foreign film.

 “I wish I knew (when I was younger) that I was going to fall crazy in love with the perfect man. I was so worried, and I dated some people I shouldn’t have dated. You get desperate, and you start seeing wonderful things in, like, the wrong guys. I also found some pretty good guys”

With Edward Atterton

With Oscar de la Hoya

With Edward Norton

With Colin Farrell

Salma at this time was a serial monogamist and looking for “The One!” She admitted in an interview for Allure magazine that she dated people she shouldn’t have because she was “desperate” to find her perfect soul mate. She revealed that when she was younger she was in a hurry to find the person with whom she was going to spend the rest of her life, and because of that desire, she found herself overlooking her previous partners’ shortcomings. “I wish I knew (when I was younger) that I was going to fall crazy in love with the perfect man. I was so worried, and I dated some people I shouldn’t have dated. You get desperate, and you start seeing wonderful things in, like, the wrong guys. I also found some pretty good guys.

But I wish I could say to myself: ‘Hey, chill out. You’re going to get a great husband that’s going to adore you.’ I would have saved myself a lot of personal drama.”

She especially had a soft spot for actors during this phase: she dated English actor Edward Atterton from 1997 to 1999, followed by a brief liaison with Mexican-American boxer Oscar de la Hoya. Then came a serious relationship with American character actor Edward Norton from 1999 to 2003. Good looking actor Josh Lucas applied the salve to her heartbreak in 2003 for a year. In 2004, Irish Lothario Colin Farrell and Salma had a fling during the filming of their below average movie “Ask the Dust” (2006).

She said how she felt about men, “What worries me the most is that most men are so weak. Because of that they act like they don’t care and like machos – because they are too fragile inside. They’re scared of confrontation and afraid of so many things. And because of this they build up their life so they have to deal with their feelings as little as possible. I find feminine men unbelievably sexy. But most men are completely incapable of getting in touch with their feminine side. What am I supposed to talk about with a man who doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman?”

First wife Dorothée Lepère

Francios Henri Pinault, one of France’s richest and most influential men

So Salma concentrated on her work and poured her passion into her labour of love, the film she co-produced about the life of the legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whom Salma had been admiring her entire life and whose story she wanted to bring to the big screen ever since her arrival in Hollywood. Frida (2002) has great performances from Salma in the leading role and Alfred Molina as Kahlo’s cheating husband. The cast included many of her friends who wanted to support her, including Antonio Banderas, Ashley Judd, Valeria Golino and Edward Norton. Salma famously sports Frida’s real life one eyebrow for the film. The biographical movie is coloured with the same colour palette that Frida Kahlo used in her paintings and was nominated for six Oscars, including best actress for Hayek, who became the second Latin actress to be nominated in the category. It won the Academy Awards for make-up and original score by Elliot Goldenthal. Salma also won credibility as a serious actress and successful producer.

The next year, she reprised her role in the final of Rodriguez’s Desperado trilogy Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) alongside her buddy Antonio Banderas. Incidentally, Salma is also godmother to Rodriguez’s children.

She followed this movie up with After the Sunset (2004) opposite Pierce Brosnan. She then starred in a Western about gun toting bad ass female bandits Bandidas (2006) alongside her best friend Spanish actress Penélope Cruz. She also announced her Best Actress Academy Award nomination for Volver (2006) at her ceremony–they are that close. At this time, it’s safe to say that Salma was not broken in any way by her string of unsuccessful romances but chose to be strong and independent, concentrating on her work and friends.

Then 2006, fresh from her fling with Colin Farrell, Salma started dating divorced French businessman Francois Henri Pinault.
She revealed in an interview, “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.” Salma, as it turns out, was far more traditional than she realized.

“I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day,” said Linda Evangelist in her heyday

The Hollywood mansion FHP bought in daughter Valentina’s name to woo Salma back

FHP, as he is nicknamed, was born in 1962 in Rennes, Brittany, France, in the lap of luxury. His father François Pinault founded Kering, a luxury, sports and lifestyle empire estimated at $16.9 billion in March 2017, according to Bloomberg that includes Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, and many other high end brands.

FHP graduated from HEC School of Management, near Versailles, in 1985 and completed at that time mandatory military service in the French Consulate Economic Expansion station in Los Angeles, during which he studied the American fashion and new technology sectors. On his return to Paris in 1987, he joined PPR (as Kering was then known) as a manager in the buying department. Over the years, working his way up and propelled by being the son of the CEO, FHP strengthened the sports section of the conglomerate by acquiring the German brand Puma and the French Ligue 1 football club, Stade Rennais. From 1996 to 2004, he was married to Dorothée Lepère and has two children from her, François and Mathilde Pinault. In March 2005, he succeed his father as chairman and CEO of Kering.

Newly divorced and surrounded by tall, skinny, gorgeous models, FHP started casually seeing supermodel Linda Evangelista, who had famously said earlier that she doesn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. The forty year old model’s career lifespan was at its sell-by date, and she was looking around to settle down and have children by this time. Though FHP later said he only spent seven days out of her four months with her from September 2005 to January 2006, she got pregnant. He bolted. At first, he denied the baby was his. Much later did he admit he had asked her to abort as he was not interested in raising the baby with her. With her biological clock ticking, Linda said she would raise the baby on her own. Augustin James Evangelista was born in October 2006. The father did not recognize him, give him his name, nor did he support him financially or in any other way.

Wedding festivities in Venice

Former French President Jacques Chirac & François Pinault arrive at the wedding 

Anna Wintour in Chanel

Ashley Judd

Salma’s ex Ed Norton & girlfriend Shauna Robertson

Salma didn’t merely buy a designer handbag or dress, those she gets for free. She married the man who owns the company,by showing him she doesn’t need his money

The reason FHP was desperate to distance himself from Linda and his son is because it turned out that there was some overlap–he had started seeing Salma at around the same time. She, he was serious about. According to Pinault, it was not until April 2006 that he started dating the fiery actress. The following March, she too was pregnant. However, in her case he was thrilled with the news and immediately popped the question and they got engaged. “It sounds trite to go after men who are nice but when you’ve been hurt a lot it becomes appealing,” Salma said.

While going through a difficult pregnancy, Salma finalized negotiations with MGM on behalf her Latin-themed film production company Ventanarosa of which she is CEO, and the following month, she also signed a two-year deal with ABC for Ventanarosa to develop projects for the network.

Linda with son Augustus Evangelista

The power couple at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefi

Pinault was also busy safeguarding his interests. He later admitted that he had asked his former girlfriend Linda to delay the process of legally recognising Augustin as his son because Salma was going through a difficult pregnancy. “We were told the baby (Valentina) had Down syndrome until late May 2007,” Pinault said, adding that Salma at 41, almost lost their daughter in a miscarriage that was successfully prevented. Linda was considerate and agreed to delay the process and he was grateful, the New York Post reported when the whole story came out five years later. Salma gave birth to Valentina Paloma Pinault in September 2007 in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles.

We don’t know when exactly Salma found out about his son from Linda that was born the year before her own and if that played any factor in their breakup a year later in July 2008. Salma returned to Hollywood where she was the executive producer of the successful sitcom Ugly Betty that ran from 2006 to 2010. Th endless reruns of the show can be watched here, and it’s based on the hit Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty La Fea, the right for which had been officially acquired. Ugly Betty won a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Series in 2007.

Back in Hollywood after yet another unsuccessful romance, Salma reportedly had a rebound hookup with the ever willing bad boy Colin Farrell.

“I keep waiting to meet a man who has more balls than I do,” she said resignedly in an interview.

Pinault did not want to let her go so easily. To woo her back, he bought a palatial Los Angeles mansion reportedly worth between $12-$20 million and put it in trust for the baby Valentina. I’m sure he must also have vowed fidelity to Salma! He was successful in winning her back and they got married on 14th February 2009 in Paris, in the Sixth Arrondissement town hall. Two months later, they renewed their wedding vows in the presence of 150 family and friends in a beautiful ceremony at the Teatro La Fenice opera house, Venice. The 42 year old bride looked stunning in a Balenciaga wedding gown by Nicholas Ghesquiere with her hair swept back into a bun covered with a long veil. She carried a bouquet of Orchids and Stephanotis with crystals.19-month-old Valentina and Salma’s 8 year old stepdaughter Mathilde from François-Henri’s first marriage were flower girls. Among those present were actors Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend, Woody Harrelson, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, Lucy Liu, Ashley Judd, Antonio Banderas, Salma’s ex-boyfriend Edward Norton, former French President Jacques Chirac, American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, rock star Bono and fashion designer Stella McCartney. The couple kicked off the festivities the night before in true Venetian tradition with a masquerade-style rehearsal dinner at the 17th century Punta Della Dogana, the canal city’s old custom house.

Red Carpet Looks

She told Allure magazine, “I wish I knew (when I was younger) that I was going to fall crazy in love with the perfect man. I’ve never been apart from my daughter for more than two weeks. And same with François. We don’t separate for long periods of time. Never. I always miss him when we’re not together.”

The story went on, “(Salma) is so enamored with her family that she actually considered giving up her acting career after giving birth to Valentina. However, when she broached the subject with François, he insisted that she go back to work, telling her: ‘We’re not putting up with some lazy girl in the house. That’s not who I married.’

In St Barts

The blended family on holiday

With daughter Valentina

But Salma explained that his seemingly harsh reaction was actually out of love and respect for her passions. ‘He said something so beautiful,’ she said of François, adding that he told her: ‘I don’t want to be deprived of your work. I want to watch it, too. And the world has not seen the best of you yet. So you cannot stop until some of that is put out.’

When he first proposed, she told him that she wanted to remain somewhat financially independent, despite his massive wealth.
‘And he goes, “I know. That’s why I want to marry you,” she recalled. ‘Maybe that’s also part of what works great in my marriage. I still have my independence. But he likes it… And I get a lot of respect from him.”

When FHP first proposed, salma told him that she wanted to remain somewhat financially independent despite his massive wealth. “And he goes, ‘I know. That’s why I want to marry you,’” she recalled. “Maybe that’s also part of what works great in my marriage. I still have my independence. But he likes it… And I get a lot of respect from him”

In 2011, she launched her own line of affordable cosmetics, skincare, and hair care products called Nuance by Salma Hayek to be sold at the drugstore chain CVS in North America.

In late June 2011, just two years into the Pinault’s wedded bliss, all hell broke loose when Linda Evangelista filed court papers that revealed to the world that her son, Augustin James Evangelista, had been fathered by Pinault. In the filing, it was stated that the child “was born out of wedlock to (petitioner) Linda Evangelista, and that (Pinault) acknowledged (her) allegation.
A source told PEOPLE magazine that “This is no Schwarzenegger case. No one was married. There was no infidelity.”

Linda, who is worth $8 million and owns a penthouse in Chelsea, West Side of Manhattan as well as an apartment near her son’s school on the Upper East Side sued Pinault for child-support in the Manhattan Family Court in August shortly after her breakup with another billionaire, Hard Rock Cafe co-founder Peter Morton.

“She willingly paid all the expenses herself at first from her roughly $1.8 million-a-year income, but a big contract with L’Oreal ended in the last year or so, and she now needs Pinault to chip in,” her lawyer, William Beslow, said during the trial.
‘I need to protect him (Augie),” she told Love magazine. She wanted $46,000 per month in child support till the child turns 21. It was reported that if granted, this amount “would probably be the largest support order in the history of the family court.” According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Pinault’s annual salary in 2010 was $5.4 million. In New York, where the court papers were filed, the law requires a father to pay 17 per cent of what he earns in child support, meaning Pinault owed her $920,000 for that year.

A heavily-publicized child support trial began the next year. Evangelista’s attorney claimed that Pinault had never supported the child, while she had spent over a million dollars taking care of Augie that included armed security guards and round the clock nannies. The surprise settlement, revealed by a source to The New York Post, came three days into the court scrap that revealed some of the uglier truths about the former couple’s four-month relationship. Evangelista’s lawyer William Beslow argued that Augie deserved a lifestyle similar to that of Pinault’s four-year-old daughter with Hayek and that he spent $50,000 a month just on the taxes, upkeep and loan payments for the Hollywood house he had bought for Valentina. Taking the witness stand, Pinault admitted he could not remember what he had bought his son or how much he had spent on him. He said, “I bought him a present for Christmas. I bought it online. It was a piano thing. I also bought him a present for his birthday and ,” but could not remember what he had actually bought him.

“You’ve got to take who you are and love who you are and do the best you can with what you’ve got. That goes for the figure, and it goes for everything else. You’ve got to have a sense of humor about who you are and give yourself a break. You’ve got to be kind to yourself. And it’s not easy, you know?”

Pinault criticized Linda saying the $46,000 a month is in fact for ‘mom support.’

“Most of the expenses do not relate to Augie but they relate to Ms. Evangelista,” Pinault’s lawyer, David Aronson said in his opening statement. “It is the classic case of someone trying to bootstrap herself to something that is alimony. Is Mr. Pinault a comfortable man of substantial means? Yes. But in the four years preceding 2011, her average income was $1.8 million. These

people have more money than a lot of people, but our position is that what we understand is being asked for is just ridiculous.”
In a surprise twist, just before Linda was to present her personal testimony in the court, Pinault called her up on the phone and settled out-of-court with her for an undisclosed amount close to the sum she had asked for. Salma probably had encouraged him, so that her husband would be prevented from suffering any more public embarrassment.

Loving couple in Paris

In a rare holiday snap that she herself put on Instagram

Salma said to an InStyle magazine reporter after the trial ended, “You’ve got to take who you are and love who you are and do the best you can with what you’ve got. That goes for the figure, and it goes for everything else. You’ve got to have a sense of humor about who you are and give yourself a break. You’ve got to be kind to yourself. And it’s not easy, you know?”

She believes the secret to her decade long marriage is cutting out extra social engagements and putting each other first she told reporters at a Harper’s Bazaar event. “I married the right guy. That is probably the most important thing. We support each other in everything we do. We want the other one to strive. Makes you happy when the other one strives. And you know what, we don’t have a very strong social life, because we really like to spend time together. So we do spend a lot of quality time together.” She added that balancing motherhood and career isn’t always the biggest challenge for her, but she does find that balancing motherhood and marriage a greater task. “Sometimes the hardest things to balance are motherhood with marriage,” she said, adding that husbands can be a little overwhelming. “They take over, oh my God, they take over everything. You just have to remind yourself that you have that other big kid too to look after. He looks like he’s self-sufficient, but they need the tender loving care too. You have to keep reminding yourself.” Her biggest trick to maintaining balance is to make sure she doesn’t spend too much time away from family. “When it comes to my career, what I do is I only do roles that are shot in a way that I’m never more than two weeks away from my family.”


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