Oprah: How did you stand there with a straight face and deal with that situation?
Salma: How can you be angry at someone who's so ignorant?
Oprah: I agree with you.
Salma: I don't feel anything but pity. I had never been discriminated against in my life; I was pretty and I was rich in Mexico. I'd tell the executives, "Arnold Schwarzenegger has an accent." They'd become so nervous because they had no answer for that. Arnold played mostly robots at the beginning of his career, and once the money started rolling in, all these directors and producers go deaf. They don't see the color, nothing. All the senses go. They just hear one sound: ka-ching!
Oprah: If Arnold were to lose that accent now, they'd say, "Get that accent back!"
Salma: If I make the money with the accent, then they like the accent. Even for the roles I landed in those days, I was underpaid. Others kept saying, "Don't take the money now, because this is your opportunity [to be seen]." But everyone else is making a big fee. I'd hear, "Because they paid the man, there's no money for the woman." How many times do you think I heard this? Over and over. Then I became a sex symbol. Now, how the hell did that happen? I don't exactly know the moment when it happened, but all of a sudden I'm a bombshell. The way I discovered this was I did Desperado. I had a very hard time with the love scene. I cried throughout the love scene. That's why you never see long pieces of the love scene—it's little pieces cut together. I'm crying most of the time so they have to take little pieces. It took eight hours instead of an hour. I nearly got fired.
Oprah: Why were you crying—you didn't want to do it?
Salma: Because I didn't want to be naked in front of a camera. The whole time, I'm thinking of my father and my brother.
Oprah: Which kinda ruins your characterization.
Salma: And then when the movie comes out, I read the first review. What do they say about me? "Salma Hayek is a bombshell." I had heard that when a movie does badly here, they say it bombs. So I'm crying. I think they're saying, "That terrible actress! It's a bomb! Salma Hayek is the worst part of the movie!" I called my friend and said, "The critics are destroying me!" She says, "No, they're saying you're very sexy." And then I look at all the reviews, and everybody said I was very sexy. So I'm very confused. I said, "I wonder if that's good or bad." I hear, "Yes, that's good." Then I do Fools Rush In, and I'm playing a pregnant woman. And they say I'm sexy again! I go, "But I'm pregnant!" I'm not even naked in this movie, and they still say I'm sexy. And then it became very depressing—I thought, "I guess I'm reduced to that now. That's all I am in the perception of these people."
Oprah: That's so interesting to me. I've never been a bombshell or even had the possibility of being a bombshell, but I know people whose whole life is spent trying to maintain the bombshell image—even people who aren't close, who are just a little "ombshell" without the b. So that wasn't exciting for you?
Salma: It was not my plan, and it was not exciting.