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April 18, 2007

Salma Hayek: Hot Mama!

They say motherhood mellows you. But Salma Hayek, pregnant with her first child, still has a fiery opinion on everything from the Catholic Church to domestic violence. We say, bring it on . . .

salma hayek

Salma Hayek

Photo Credit: Ruven Afanador

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Sitting in the lounge of Hollywood's Chateau Marmont with Salma Hayek, something seems amiss. She's "under the weather," she tells me (she'd said the same thing 10 days earlier at the cover shoot). Yet her curvy figure is flush with life. Her cheeks are rosy. The only thing subpar is her appetite. Later, I suss out why: Hayek is pregnant with her first child. The lucky father? François-Henri Pinault, CEO of PPR Group, the world's third-largest luxury-goods conglomerate. Now the two are engaged. The day we meet, Hayek, in a turquoise sundress, settles into a plush couch and tucks her feet beneath her. Although she's yet to formally announce it, marriage and motherhood are clearly on her mind.

MC: You turned 40 this year. Has your family been pressuring you to have kids?
SH: No, no. They learned long ago how to shut up and leave me alone. I think it's terrible women are put in that position. Motherhood is not for everyone-it is for me, but there's no reason women should feel rushed to have a child. I don't know if you've noticed, but society thinks if you don't have children, you've failed as a woman, even if you are CEO of a company. You've got to be beautiful, smart, skinny, tall, rich, successful at your job, married to the right guy-and have genius children. And by the way, you also have to be a nun! If we can find one mistake in the whole thing, you've failed. And if you accomplish it, God help you, because they'll never forgive you. They'll only let you get so far.

MC: You've gotten pretty far-your show, Ugly Betty, recently won a Golden Globe. What's it like being female in Hollywood's boys club?
SH: Everybody thinks I've got a new job, but I've been trying to get shows on the air for years. I've sold scripts, but this is the first one to make it all the way. The secret is never giving up. Like with Frida, I took two years off; I risked everything. I thought, Maybe this doesn't get done, your career goes down the drain, and you lose your money trying to produce it. But I took the chance. I did the same thing in Mexico. I was huge in Mexico-soap operas are huge, and mine was very successful. I left the money, security, and fame to come to Hollywood and work as an extra. In order to change, you have to be willing to give up who you are.

MC: Did you always want to be an actress?
SH: When I was really young, yes-then I totally didn't. I went to college for political science. I wanted to be president of Mexico.

MC: There's still time . . .
SH:: Yeah, but now I wouldn't want to.

MC: Your parents sent you to Catholic boarding school. Somehow, I can't picture you in a place like that.
SH: Well, at the time I was quite devoted. I went to church every day-it was not mandatory, but I went anyway. I was very Catholic. I'm very not right now.

MC: Why?
SH: The minute I started thinking it through, I realized all religions are a form of manipulation. And I started having problems with certain beliefs-like in Africa, where people are dying of AIDS and overpopulation, the Catholic Church is going over to convert them and take away the condoms! And I said, wait a minute . . .

MC: So-
SH: So I don't believe in the institution. I still believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in God. Also, I don't like the way the Bible views women-this thing about the Virgin Mary conceiving a child without having sex-so if you conceive a child by having sex, there's a subliminal message that there's something dirty about it. And this is what makes us divine-I mean, the possibility of creating another life should remind women that we are creators, that we are made like God in our ability. There is nothing greater than to create another human being.

MC: So it's a contradiction?
SH: Look at our bodies! If there's something that should make women feel like goddesses, it should be our bodies, and instead it's the one thing that makes us feel unworthy. Insecure. Obsessed. Dirty. Explain this to me.

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