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“VIVA LA MEXICO”

Salma Hayek and Seidy Lopez, two young and talented actresses from Mexico, coming from different backrounds, but bringing the same dreams and hopes. And their future looks bright…

salma_hayekSalma Hayek comes from a good family backround growing up with her brother in the small picturesque town of Coatzacoalcos in the province of Vera Cruz in Mexico. Her acting career started in the theater when she was 19. Her first role as Princess Jasmin in “Aladdin” gave her the recognition that landed her the lead in the prime time TV-soap “Teresa”, which made her a star in Mexico. The show had ratings up to 68%, and Salma won several awards, including Best Newcomer and Best Actress. Today the show is sold to 23 other countries. Despite her success in many areas in Mexico, she wanted to come to America to learn more, and to go further. And after three years, she has already made a name for herself.

You were a star in Mexico, what made you give that up for the anonymity in the United States?

“I wanted to do feature films in America. I also wanted to learn more and improve my acting. So at first I went to study with Stella Adler for about a year and a half. I was actually in her last class, before she died.”

“When you first came here, wasn’t it difficult to get work? Did you have a work permit?”
“No, it was hard in the beginning when I started booking jobs. I lost a lot of parts, a couple of episodes in “Silk Stalkings” and ” Jake and the Fatman,” because they didn’t have time to go through the hassle of getting me a temporary work permit. I also lost a part in “Three of Hearts” with William Baldwin. I did a couple of jobs in Canada. It was easier to get a temporary working permit over there. Then finally I got some work here, with the help of an attorney, but he was charging me a lot of money. He told me that I wasn’t qualified to get a green card.”

“So, what did you do?”

“I didn’t know what to do. But then something happened. When I was in “Mi Vida Loca”, the owner of Cineville, the production company , told me to contact his attorney, Humberto R. Gray. They recommended me to get a green card, based on the fact that I was an international celebrity. I have a lot of awards, and my show is a success in Europe, the Middle East, and in China. I was so surprised. All the other attorneys that I had had, never came up with that.”

“Was it complicated to get a visa?”

“No, it was so simple after that! Because I had a deal with NBC at the time, developing a show for FOX, and I had letters from prominent people in the industry who wanted to work with me, and I had been working on a couple of prime time shows, it was all they needed. So Humberto R. Gray got me a couple of temporary work permits, and then applied for a green card. It was approved in about a week. Six months later I had my green card!”

“Wasn’t it hard to leave your family in Mexico?”

“Yes, but my brother goes to art school in Pasadena. I missed my parents. And I still have work in Mexico, which was a problem. During the six month period waiting for my green card I wasn’t supposed to leave the country. Humberto R. Gray helped me get something like ten passes so that I could go back and forth anyway.”

“You were successful in Mexico, but you had other ambitions in life. You wanted to do more, develop as an actress, and you wanted to get into motion pictures, rather than get stuck in Mexican TV?”

“Yes, I guess I’m in American TV now, but it’s a step in the right direction. I’m doing really good. I did an action movie called “Roadracers”, by the director Robert Rodriquez who did “El Mariachi”. It’s my first leading role in an American feature film. It will be released this year.”

“What’s your next project?”

“Right now I’m doing a sitcom pilot for Warner Brothers, where I play one of the leads. It’s produced by Roseanne and Tom Arnold.”

“What is the show about?”

“I think it’s very funny. It’s about four girls, two black, me, and an Asian girl. We are very different, but close friends. Three of them live together, I live with my husband in the same house, but when we fight I move in with the girls.”

“I am also interviewing another Mexican actress, Seidy Lopez, for this newletter. You two come from quite different backrounds.”

“Yes, we met and became friends on the set of “Mi Vida Loca”, which actually was my first job here. It’s funny that although Seidy grew up here, she had had the same problems that I had with the visa situation.”

“Anything else, while you are waiting for the sitcom to happen?”

“There are a couple of movies that I am up for right now, but until I know for sure what’s going to happen with it, I really can’t do much. I would need their permission to work on a movie. It all depends on if the shooting schedules fit with the TV production.”

“You have an agent?”

“Yes, William Morris Agency. I also have a manager, Phyllis Carlie who works together with Robert Goodman. Phyllis is manager for people like Andy Garcia, William De Foe, Melanie Griffith, Geena Davies, and John Malcovitz.”

“Why do you have to have a manager and an agent?”

“They work together. At William Morris I have a TV person and a movie person overseeing all that. Phyllis and Robert overlooks everything, give advice. They are like the “Brain” of my career. They shape my career, and look out for new stuff. If I’m lucky, I’m up for a film which could be like “a star vehicle” for me.”

“What’s the name of the film?”

“I can’t tell you yet, but it’s a very funny story about a Mexican girl that marries a Jewish guy, and they barely know each other. It’s actually a true story.”

“That sounds great. Anything else?”

“There is another movie, where I am first choice for the director. If it get’s into production, I’ll do it. I’m doing really good. I have done a lot of episodic TV. I was in “Dream On”, “Nurses”, “Jack’s Place”…

“So you made the right choice coming to America. Your future looks bright and exciting!”

“Oh, Yes! And I still have a lot of work in Mexico, so it’s great that I have my Green Card now. I can just go back and forth as much as I like and work wherever I want. It’s great.”
Look out for Salma, Hollywood!

– Susanne Wigforss