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.

Salma: Probably.

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.

Oprah: Like?

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."


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