This beauty was born and raised in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Her religious parents -- father of Lebanese descent, mother of Spanish descent -- wanted to ensure that their daughter would be well-educated, and sent her a Louisiana boarding school when she was 12. Sent back home for being a prankster in boarding school, Hayek finished high school and was sent to Houston to live with her aunt until the age of 17.
Once a college student in Mexico City majoring in international relations studies, Hayek finally decided to dropout (to her parents' chagrin) to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an actress.
Hayek started out doing local theater, including a role as the female lead in Aladdin and His Marvelous Lamp. Theater work eventually led to commercials, which finally led to a part a popular daytime soap called Nuevo Amanecer. Hayek was considered a goddess in Mexico for her role as Teresa in the serial of the same name. This was, however, not enough for this ambitious beauty who had set her sights on the big leagues: Hollywood.
Hayek moved to Los Angeles in 1991, a complete unknown in a city full of aspiring actors. Foreign to the English language, Hayek spent the next 18 months taking English lessons, while perfecting her acting skills with a drama teacher. Although Hayek spent four months auditioning for a leading role that finally went to another actress, the director, impressed by her determination, cast her in a smaller role in the film so that she could become a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Her big break had finally arrived, and it was mostly thanks to her appearance on a Spanish-language cable talk show. Director Robert Rodriguez caught Hayek's appearance, and knew he had to cast her for the lead role of the sequel to his successful film El Mariachi, 1995's Desperado, opposite Antonia Banderas. Roles in Fair Game and Fled did not do the actress justice, but with Salma Hayek web sites finding their home in cyberspace and roles pouring in, audiences were sure to take notice of this Mexican beauty.
She was cast in From Dusk 'Til Dawn with George Clooney and in the 1997 comedy Fools Rush In, co-starring Matthew Perry and marking her first leading role. That same year, Hayek charmed audiences with her role as Esmeralda in a TNT rendition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She was no stranger to the role, as she portrayed Esmeralda in Disney's Spanish version of the film.
Hayek's film repertoire only continued to expand, with a role as a coke-sniffing dancer in 54, a tribute to the popular 70's nightclub. She also starred opposite Kevin Kline and Will Smith in last summer's big budget disappointment Wild Wild West.; the controversial Dogma, co-starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck; and she will soon be seen in The Velocity of Gary, as well as Frida, the biography of painter Frida Kahlo.
What else do you need to know?