Salma Hayek

Posted by Arab American Institute on June 15, 2015 in Blog

Salma Hayek Pinault, born to a Lebanese father and Mexican mother, has long cherished the rich culture of her father and grandfather. Growing up in southern Mexico, Salma took great pride in being known in her neighborhood as part of the Arab diaspora. While her grandparents emigrated from Lebanon to Mexico, Salma would later move to the United States, then France, and finally to England. Everywhere Hayek has lived, she has always embraced the different cultures and ethnicities of the world. Hayek powerfully articulated this at AAI’s 2015 Kahlil Gibran Awards Gala, sharing “I am a citizen of the world, and my country is humanity”.

Salma’s connection to her Lebanese heritage was nurtured by her grandfather’s devotion to the works of Khalil Gibran. Hayek has frequently shared that Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet enjoyed a perpetual and treasured presence on her grandfather’s bedside table. Having committed many of his greatest poems to memory, Hayek grew up believing that the wondrous, magical quality of Gibran’s works can unite people across countries, religions, and generations.

This past year, Hayek brought Khalil Gibran’s most famous work to life by producing an animated film adaptation of Gibran’s The Prophet. The film premiered in Beirut this April, which was the first star-studded red carpet premiere in Beirut’s history. The film’s premiere was Hayek’s first ever trip to Lebanon, though she had tried to go many times before. Hayek remarked that nothing could have prepared her for the beauty of the country of her ancestors, or the warmth of its people. Hayek took the opportunity to not only share her film, but she visited many refugee camps and Lebanese organizations that assist those refuges. Hayek had privately contributed to camps hosting Syrian refugees, but formally launched her non-profit group, Chime for the Children of Syria, to take her philanthropy to a larger scale of impact. In Lebanon, her organization is helping feed, house, educate, and further assist Lebanese and Syrians displaced and affected by turmoil.

Salma Hayek Pinault’s work to empower girls across the world through the Salma Hayek Foundation, Chime for Change, her tenure as an Ambassador with UNICEF, and countless charitable acts that have impated the lives of refugees and vulnerable populations across the world makes her much more than a famous Hollywood actress. The self proclaimed perpetual immigrant has made an indelible impact on each country she has lived in and the people she has come to know.

Read more stories about Arab immigrants and their descendants on the "Together We Came" main page.