Oprah: As a dyslexic, could you even read a street sign?
Salma: "Turn left"? That alone was a blur.
Oprah: You would've been a danger to us all on the highway! So you literally got on a plane in Mexico and flew directly to Hollywood?
Salma: Packed two bags.
Oprah: Where did you live?
Salma: I was going to live in a hotel, but the night before I came, I ran into a girl I knew from Spain. I said, "What are you doing?" She said, "I'm living in Los Angeles." And I said, "Oh, I'm going to be living in Los Angeles starting tomorrow." So I stayed in her house for a couple days. I got my apartment as soon as I could, got my driver's license and a car.
Oprah: You could get your driver's license? Didn't you have to be able to read English to study and pass the test?
Salma: They give the test in Spanish—this is California. You'd be surprised how you can survive in this state without speaking a word of English.
Oprah: I bet you can.
Salma: I barely made it through the test—I got like, you know, a C.
Oprah: You can get away with a lot because you're cute.
Oprah: I find it extraordinary that you came here knowing so little English. I have another friend who came from Nicaragua with $37 in her pocket and learned to speak English. It's like landing on Mars—is it not?
Salma: Yes! A lot seemed so shockingly absurd.
Salma: To get a job, you need to have an agent—but to have an agent, you have to show them a video of a job. Everything to me was Martian. You know, I was so naive that I'd send the tape of my soap around, and I'd pick all the crying scenes. I thought all that crying would really impress them—waaa, waaa! People would look at me like I was an alien.
Oprah: Good crier, yes. Was there a time when you wanted to give up?
Salma: I certainly had my moments of desperation, of anger, of self-pity, of self-deprecation. Yet after a lot of struggling, I am finally working. I am beginning to make money. I am famous. And I say, "This is not what I wanted, either. It doesn't feel good, either." And I go, "Why?" Well, I am famous, doing movies that my agents want. People around me are saying, "This is what you need to do now so that you can get to do what you want later."
We Hear You!