The Secret To Salma Hayek’s Success Is Not Fitting Into Any Stereotypes

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Everyone likes to fit in, but no one want to be called a stereotype in any way. But doesn’t that sound like a catch 22? Yes, it is. We are bombarded with messages in society (largely fueled by our celebrity-obsessed culture) that tells us we need to look a certain way, and act a certain way to be “normal” .

And even celebrities themselves are not immune to this curse, which is even more ridiculous that many of them are the vehicle through which the media likes to perpetuate unhealthy standards. But when you strip away culture and industry pressure, you are left with an individual who has their own thoughts, feelings and desires.

For example, actress, activist and businesswoman Salma Hayek Pinault says she was told she would never fit in in Hollywood because of who she is. In an interview with Net-A-Porter’s ‘The Edit’ magazine, she talks about battling through the barriers to become who she is today: an accomplished woman who refused to dull herself for an industry that thrives on homogeneity.

She is a walking anomaly, according to industry standards, but by ours and many other real life standards, she is a badass example of what we are capable of if we only ignore the status quo.

Although she is nearing 50 (yet another taboo in Hollywood – aging) she says audiences will see the best roles of her life because of the opportunities given to her by certain directors.

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“If you think about it, I’m limited by the way I talk and by the way I look. I’m 48 years old. Amazing, talented people [stop finding work] at 32, 33 sometimes! Not so much in London, but in the US it’s crazy,” she said.

Although Hollywood may view her as somewhat different, the truth is that there are millions of people around the world who look like her and shouldn’t ever be made to feel like they don’t belong in some way. However, you get a sense of Salma now reveling in the fact that she defied the standards by being who she was.

“I’m not like the girl next door who is easy to cast. I don’t fit into any of the stereotypes of a woman that should continue to work. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think it has anything to do with planning. It has something to do with karma, maybe. I believe in karma.”

Perhaps she is alluding to the karma she created for herself by not giving up and succeeding anyway. We’re speculating, of course, but it has a nice ring to it.

Salma goes on to talk about a book called ‘The Prophet’ by Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran which she bought the rights and and has turned into a feature film. The struggle she is currently having is finding distribution and convincing distribution companies that this is a worthwhile film pouring money into. However, her can-do attitude toward getting the film out there is reminiscent of how she approached her acting career.

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“I cannot find a distribution [company] in London. I can’t find distribution in many places. They think it’s too sophisticated for children. They say it’s too childish for adults. I’ll prove them wrong. Watch me. I’ll show it for free to every school. This is a labor of love. I’ll find a way.”

That “find a way” attitude is something worth noting, for all of us as women and as a society. No matter what we are up against we ow it to ourselves and future generations to find a way to make it happen in order to create a path that didn’t appear before.

The Oscar-nominee and activist for Gucci’s Chime for Change initiative alongside Beyonce is used to having to break down extra barriers in her career not just as a Latina but also as a woman.

“We’re constantly scrutinized, so we learn to be hard on ourselves because everybody is hard on us,” she says, “even our children, because we are the ones who are there all the time, providing that attention.”

She believes equality is going to be achieved by women speaking up more in the workplace, essentially echoing the “lean in” mentality of Sheryl Sandberg.

“In the workplace, men get better paid. They are more easily promoted than [women]. In order to be considered a good wife or mother, and in the workplace, the expectations are so high. We have to be more demanding in the workplace. We need to be more assertive in that department, and stand our ground in our own homes, and teach our children to give us a break and be more appreciative.”

Oh and in case you are wondering about her stance on feminism, in November 2014 she made it clear at an Equality Now event she wasn’t one because she believes in equality. It was clear there was obviously some confusion in her mind and that she had fallen under the “feminism is a bad word” curse that seems to plague many in society today.

Thankfully, it seems she has come around, found the right definition and isn’t afraid to admit today that she IS in fact a feminist!

“I am a feminist because I love women and I am ready to fight for women. I am a feminist because I am proud to be a woman, and I am passionate about making the world a better place for women. I am a feminist because a lot of amazing women have made me the woman I am today. I am inspired by women every day, as friends and as colleagues. But – it should not be just because I am a woman,” she said at a recent press event in London before speaking at the Women of the World conference on the same weekend at International Women’s Day.

It should be a reflex, if someone else is being hurt, to help. It shouldn’t have to be because you are being a victim too. I work a lot for domestic violence, and people often ask me if I have experienced it. And I say, no, on the contrary – my father is a great man, my husband is a great man. But we are all human beings, no?”

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The proud Mexican native was asked her opinion on the lack of diversity at the 2015 Oscar nominations, and she has some good perspective. For those of us complaining that ‘Selma’ was ignored this year being that it was a film about African American subject matter, we also shouldn’t forget that just a year earlier, ’12 Years a Slave’ won Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay and one of the breakout stars Lupita Nyong’o won ‘Best Actress’.

Salma also points out the diversity from a year ago.

“Last year, the Best Director category was won by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón [for Gravity]. The Best Cinematography category was won by Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. This year, one of the Best Picture nominees is ‘Birdman’, by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Lubezki is nominated again for Best Cinematography. We have come a long way. Some of the best talent in the filmmaking industry today is Mexican. When I started out, this was unheard of.”

There’s a sense of Salma Hayek being a woman who has the trifecta in perfect balance: life, love and career. She attributes this to finding the right man, French luxury fashion billionaire Francois Pinault with whom she has a daughter, Valentina. She believes finding the right partner in life is absolutely crucial.

“It’s very important that they support you. They should never make you feel bad or insecure. What’s important in a marriage is generosity, thoughtfulness, thinking of the other person all of the time.” It is a mature outlook on relationships that definitely comes with experience and time, we think. But her perspective is one to be admired and certainly looked up to.

As a balance to that sage advice for those of us who may not be at Salma’s level just yet, ‘Girls’ actress Zosia Mamet in her latest column for Glamour magazine writes about how for young women it is also important not to rush into relationships just because a person may tick all the right boxes and because we are pressured to feel a certain way.

“We’re brought up on these tales of Cinderella and Snow White, the lonely girl finally meeting her Prince Charming and being whisked away into the sunset. Then we hit the grown-up dating world, and an ugly fluorescent light is cast upon this love fairy tale, revealing a bleak, lonely desert. So when someone comes along who’s “good on paper,” we hold on for dear life, even if being with that person, off paper, in reality, feels like sh-t,” she says.

“Fear in all forms makes us stay too long in relationships when we know we shouldn’t. Does your relationship feel good? If it does, stay. If it doesn’t, well, you know what to do.”

There are so many awesome pieces of advice from Salma, it’s making us giddy. We’re not necessarily putting her up on a pedestal, we’re excited to see a woman speaking out about being an individual and not apologizing for different, and that being the very thing that has led to her happiness and success. If you are one of those people who has been told you need to change to fit in, all you need to do is remember Salma Hayak, and many other men and women who refused society’s standards, and continue on with your bold, badass self.

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One Comment

  1. Pingback: Cannes Wrap Up: Salma Hayek Says Hollywood Needs To Understand The Economic Power Of Women

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