Studio Heads Once Told Salma Hayek Pinault She Would Never Be A Leading Lady

Salma Hayek Pinault faced “a lot of rejection” in the ’90s — even when it came to the roles executives wanted to see her in:

“I got to a point where I was whining all the time. I was miserable. I was desperate. I was going for movies in which I hated the script; I had no respect for the director. And of course I wouldn’t get them. Of course not, because I didn’t even want to go to the meeting, and I would force myself to go to the meeting and then hate myself every second of it.”

Eventually, the actor decided she’d had enough. “I said, ‘I’m going to start a company. I am going to create projects for me. I’m going to create projects for other Latin women.'” The first of those projects was “Frida,” the 2002 biopic that brought Pinault out of the shadows. Pinault had been fighting to get the film made for nearly eight years. She fought against a modest budget, an abusive producer, and the gaggle of high profile actors — Madonna and Jennifer Lopez among them — that’d also been circling the role. The film went on to score major awards recognition, including a Best Actress nomination for Pinault at the Oscars, Golden Globes, and the BAFTAs. It also more than made up for its $15 million budget, earning a little over $50 million worldwide.

Portraying Frida Kahlo was the role of a lifetime for Pinault — and though it should have cemented her status as a leading lady, she still faced xenophobia and sexism as her career went on. It’s been frustrating to watch, especially for her friends and co-stars, like “Frida” actor Alfred Molina. “If Salma were white and male, she’d be bigger than Harvey Weinstein,” Molina said in 2003.

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