“They laughed when I came here,” recalls Salma Hayek. “They said, ‘You’re never going to be an actress. You’re Mexican,’ ” That was before her Oscar nomination (for playing the title role in “Frida”), before her Emmy win (for directing “The Maldonado Miracle”) and before “Ugly Betty” collected two Golden Globes earlier this year.
Even after inking a landmark deal to produce a full range of Latin-themed pics for release through MGM, “It’s hard for some people to believe that I actually have this company, that we finance the movies and have access to distribution,” she says.
Hayek has greenlight power over projects that fit her production outfit Ventanazul’s profile.
“I think we are the only company right now whose sole mission is to specialize in two things: 1) appealing to the Latin market and 2) taking a Latin story or a Latin talent and appealing to the global market.”
Ventanazul already has five English-language pics in negotiation, including a genre-bending postapocalyptic film from Chilean director Nicolas Lopez and an adaptation of an Israeli film, to be remade in English around a Latin family — “And guess what? We’re not changing much,” she says.
Hayek sees her latest enterprise (which comes in addition to her deal with ABC Television Studio through Hayek’s other shingle, Ventanarosa) as a specialty label not so different from the early days of Miramax. “Instead of making one good movie, I’m really thinking of a brand,” she says. “I want the Latin people to be proud of the projects that come out of it and the rest of the world to be excited to see our next thing.”
Vocation: “Right now, especially because I’m pregnant, it’s not like I can go act, so all my efforts are going into Ventanazul, and also the television projects.”
Recent breakthrough: Hayek says “Ugly Betty” best reflects her personality. “It’s the one thing I generated. You have to understand, as an actress, you don’t get that many choices. You take work because that’s what’s there. This is part of my idea.”
Role model: Oprah. “I have so much admiration for her.”
Career mantra: “I do dream hard, but I’m very flexible. I think it’s the only way to be a true visionary. … I don’t think I’m going to fail, but if I do, the next person in the line will go a little bit further because I took the chance.”
What’s next: “We’ll see how we’re going to do with the company and a baby and a (Spanish-language) movie going on at the same time.”