Dear Miss Hayek,
I recently read some excerpts from an interview you gave to Stephanie Rafanelli in The Times (U.K.) that raised some interesting points. You indicated that you are tired of the Latina bombshell parts—understandably—and bemoaned the paucity of decent roles that are offered to you. “You can’t be more bottom of the ladder than Mexican, half-Arab, and a woman over 40 in Hollywood,” you were quoted as saying. You added, “Even now I am usually offered the stripper and maid parts. The closest I ever came to a queen was in (Oliver Stone’s) Savages, as the queen of a Mexican drug cartel.”
Though its hard to imagine ever using the phrase “bottom of the ladder” and the name Salma Hayak in the same sentence, I do truly sympathize: sexism and racism are rampant in Hollywood (a microcosm of America itself). I know that it is harder for women in general and particularly hard for minority actresses to find good roles. These are, no doubt, real concerns, but I think you are seeing the glass half empty. Since you seem a bit down, I thought I would be bold enough to express a few humble suggestions that might be useful. Even if they’re not useful, maybe they will just feel like a hug.
1. You are a both an international star and multi-lingual person. Who gives a damn about Hollywood? The world is big and, God knows, Hollywood is primarily making movies for other markets nowadays. Perhaps consider working with good directors in other less youth-driven countries where being a 47 year-old who happens to still be one of the most beautiful woman in the world won’t be such a liability. This strategy worked out very well for Sophia Loren, who won her Oscar for the Vittorio De Sica film Two Woman in 1962. Think of all the great French actresses who still work. Didn’t a new Catherine Deneuve movie open just last week?
2. Consider developing a project yourself. As one of the executive producers of Ugly Betty and producer/director of the Showtime film The Maldonado Miracle (among others), you have proven yourself behind the camera. I think this might be a propitious moment to mention that your husband François-Henri Pinault, CEO of worldwide branding giant Kering (formerly PPR), is reportedly worth upwards of 15 billion dollars. I mention this not merely to be gossipy, but also to point out that you don’t actually need to wait for someone to give you a role, you can just make a movie yourself. Christ, you don’t even need a studio: you’re a studio. Orson Welles would have been very envious.
Please cheer up, Miss Hayek. I feel certain that with a little bit of outside the box thinking you can overcome the challenge of being “bottom of the ladder” and realize that being one of the most glamorous, stunning women in the world who happens to be married to a billionaire is not an insurmountable obstacle nearly as much as it can be a decided asset. I for one am rooting for you.
P.S. Your husband is a worldwide branding wizard. Doesn’t he have some creative ideas?
You may also enjoy:
Orson Welles’ 12 Best Movies of All Time (and Their Directors)
Stargayzing Screening Room: What We’ve Been Watching Lately, Volume 1