Widely considered to be the first Mexican actress to become a Hollywood movie star since Dolores Del Rio, Salma Hayek is known for bringing a fiery presence and striking, dark-eyed beauty to the screen. A soap star in her native Mexico, Hayek risked her entire career to come to L.A., where she struggled to be taken seriously. Her discovery by director Robert Rodriguez, who cast her in his 1995 film Desperado, gave Hayek her breakthrough, and she subsequently gained a reputation as one of Hollywood's sexiest and busiest actresses.
The daughter of a Spanish mother and Lebanese father, Hayek was born in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico, on September 2, 1966. Raised in a devoutly Catholic family, she was sent to a Louisiana boarding school at the age of 12. After getting into trouble for terrorizing the nuns, Hayek returned to Mexico, but she was eventually sent to Houston, Texas, to live with her aunt, where she stayed until she was 17. She subsequently moved to Mexico City, where she studied International Relations as a university student, but, to the chagrin of her family, decided to drop out in order to pursue a career as an actress. Starting out in local theatre productions, she eventually moved to television and landed a starring role in the popular soap opera Teresa. The show's success made Hayek a celebrity in her native country, but, desiring something more, she shocked her fans by deciding to quit the show in order to pursue a career in L.A.