Oprah: Yes, I agree. But you absolutely shifted the paradigm by saying, "If there are no roles for Latin women, I'll create 'em."
Salma: Yes. And I had been already trying to do Frida, but I would sit on my sorrows because it was so difficult. But now I was learning new things. And so I thought, "This is what I want to do. I want to do one movie that if I die the next day, I know I left one thing in this world that I was very proud of, that other people can see, that meant something to me, that had my voice." Because God forbid I die tomorrow, I'm the bombshell for the rest of my existence.
Salma: Then I became very angry. I said, "I have become what they decided I am. When did I fall in this trap?" Somebody decided I was this, and I became that. And I said, I'm going to change it now. I'm going to define myself. So I decided to change the way I approached my work, and that meant that even my sentimental relationships changed. I eventually decided to create projects for myself and other Latin women. I decided I had to change everything so completely.
Oprah: You're lucky this happened to you. I talk to a lot of women on my show, and often at about age 39 or 40, they think, "My God, I have become what everybody else wanted me to be." I meet women every day who are never going to be in anybody's movie, but they're in their own life movie saying the exact same thing you've said: "This wasn't my dream. How did I get here?" You start acting based upon others' definition of who you are, and you just take that role in life and end up with the kids, the house. Then you feel a sense of guilt and resentment because you never wanted that. But a lot of women don't want to feel that because they think, "Well what does this mean now for my children? I love my children, I want my family. But what happened to me?"
Salma: Yes. And you have to be able to walk away from a relationship when it's time to walk away—and you have to teach your children this. It's the best way to love your children, because then they'll learn this from you—that you had the courage to walk away from a relationship when you were unhappy. You have to do what you have to do. And the children have to understand it. I think we have to teach this to our boys and our girls when they are young—11, 12. They need to understand that you got in a situation when you were too young, when you didn't understand what you wanted, and because you listened to everyone else. Your children may not listen to you—so you also have to be brave enough to respect their dreams.
Oprah: Oh, boy, that's brilliant! Aren't you glad you now know this?
Salma: I think everybody knows this. We have an uncomfortable feeling for situations we are in, but we don't understand why we are uncomfortable. And then we want to know what would be the other option.
Oprah: Got you! You are mature beyond your years, wouldn't you say?
Salma: I don't know. Maybe. You don't know what happened in my years!
We Hear You!