Oprah: I love it that you own that! Over the years, I've talked to beautiful women who say, "Oh, you should see my thighs!"

Salma: Well, I do have thighs and a butt. I have cellulite. I fight with it every day. I don't exercise, I eat pork, and I love my red wine. But, yes, I am beautiful and famous—and yet the things I like about myself have nothing to do with that, because I don't use wealth and beauty to define myself. People think I'm more beautiful than I am because they see me on magazine covers—but go to nearly any town, and you'd find prettier women. And though I'm well known now, I might not be famous one day—but I'd still be happy. I do have money, but I could be richer. I just don't want to pay the price some are willing to pay to have more money. I live in a small house. I'm not the glamour girl who wears makeup every day. I live a wonderful life, and I lack for nothing. Maybe that does make it easier for me to say, "Be who you are"—but I always tell people they shouldn't be too impressed with wealth and fame. They shouldn't worship it. I am in this machine, but I haven't completely given my soul to it.

Oprah: You're dead-on! I'm so disheartened by the culture's celebrity craze.

Salma: The whole society is obsessed.

Oprah: When you are a celebrity, you can't say that without sounding like you're complaining.

Salma: I'm not complaining—I'm just saying, "Don't be too impressed with me. Don't try to dress like me or wear your hair like mine. Find your own style. Don't spend your savings trying to be someone else. You're not more important, smarter, or prettier because you wear a designer dress." I only wear the expensive clothes because I get them free and I'm too lazy to go out and look for my own. I, a rich girl from Mexico, came here with designer clothes. And one day when I was starving in an apartment in Los Angeles, I looked at my Chanel blouses and said, "If only I could pay the rent with one of these."

Oprah: Can't eat 'em and can't trade 'em!

Salma: In those days, the rag I used to dry my dishes was more useful. Now many who start in this business come to me for advice and ask, "How do I get started?" And I have to say, "I honestly have no idea." I think it's a bunch of accidents that happen to you and somehow you survive them and take advantage of them and something magical happens—and you have an agent.

Oprah: It's no accident. In a city filled with screenwriters-by-night and aspiring actresses, I know your success is connected to your passion and the energy it creates. There are some people who have that passion so strongly that the entire universe cannot deny it.

Salma: Yes. But I'm going to tell you something: I think there's an element to that passion that I always leave out and that I have recently learned to understand, and it has helped me a lot.


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