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Salma Hayek Lost Two Comedy Roles Because Directors Feared Mexican Lead Would Upset Studio

The directors admitted to Hayek that she was the best actress for the job, but they still did not cast her.

26 February 2020, Berlin: 70th Berlinale, "The Roads Not Taken" - Press conference: Actress Salma Hayek. The International Film Festival takes place from 20.02. to 01.03.2020. Photo by: Jens Kalaene/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Salma Hayek

Jens Kalaene/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Salma Hayek revealed in a new Variety cover story that two directors informed her she wasn’t getting a job on their movies solely because she is a Mexican actress, despite both filmmakers admitting she was the best actress for those roles. The “Frida” Oscar nominee said, “I remember there were two big comedies I auditioned for the lead. Afterwards, the directors told me that I was the best audition and that I was better than who they cast and that they regretted it. But at the time, they knew the studios wouldn’t have gone for a Mexican as the lead.”

Hayek did not reveal which two comedies were being discussed, but she added, “I got a lot of satisfaction with them coming to me and telling me because I thought it was very courageous of them. And I thought it changed something. It changed something in them. It made [me think that] maybe the next generation or the next girl that comes in was going to get a better shot because of it.”

“Nobody really looked into my value,” Hayek continued about her career. “If you are a woman and you are in a movie that is very successful and they say you are their favorite character, they will still give all credits of the box office to the guy. They don’t count who you’re bringing into the theaters. In my case, I was already a very big star in my country. I was bringing the Latino market into the theaters. I know some of the studios knew that. But they didn’t want to accept the value of the Latino market at the time.”

Hayek got her Hollywood breakthrough by starring opposite Antonio Banderas in Robert Rodriguez’s “Desperado.” But even then the studio did not want to hire a Mexican actress. As Hayek revealed in an interview with Elle magazine last year, “I remember Cameron Diaz was huge at the time and her last name was Diaz, so they said she can be Mexican. She was part of the list, and I had to audition again…I’m telling you, the studio wanted Cameron Diaz as a Mexican.”

The audition process for the 1993 drama “The House of Spirits” wasn’t any better. “I begged for an audition. They wouldn’t even give me an audition,” Hayek told Elle. “I was like, ‘Just hear me read.’ And this is for a Latino role. They were not hiring Latinos for Latino roles. They were not hiring Latinos period — unless it was the maid or the prostitute. And that part was not a maid or a prostitute.”

Next up for Hayek are two studio tentpoles, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife” and the MCU epic “Eternals.” Head over to Variety to read Hayek’s new cover story in its entirety.

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