With a name like Salma Hayek, it is no surprise that the Hollywood actress’ press conference Wednesday was centered on her Middle Eastern background.
“We are very proud of your Middle Eastern origins, Tunisian actress Hend Sabry, who was moderating the press conference, told Hayek as she introduced her to the media present at Sofitel Gezirah.
Recognized for her work in front of and behind the cameras, Hayek on the other hand received questions about her ethnicity, her impression of Egypt, and of course, President Barack Obama.
Hayek said she grew up in a “little Middle East in Mexico, where there was a large Lebanese community. While she admits she doesn’t speak the language, Hayek said she has always been in touch with her Lebanese roots.
She explained that the Lebanese community in Mexico was very tight-knit because Middle Easterners tend to come closer together if they are in a foreign country.
However, Hayek said that while in Mexico they saw her as a Lebanese girl, in the US they saw her as a Mexican girl, and in France – where she lives “part-time with her French husband – they see her as an American.
Given her ethnicity, Hayek said she hopes to play the role of an Arab woman in a movie one day, “but they are hard to come across.
She explained that this subject matter is something the movers and shakers in Hollywood would not support financially.
Hayek said this was her second time in Egypt – the last visit being 26 years ago – and that she was “haunted by the country that she remembered vividly, which encouraged her to come back.
“Do you want me to continue talking about Egypt? she asked members of the press. Mesmerized by her accent, a collective “yes! echoed in the room.
Hayek then proceeded to tell a “funny story that took place on her first visit to Egypt, which involved a one-toothed man who was pulling her camel at the pyramids attempting to kidnap her.
“Maybe he wanted another wife, she joked.
Hayek was then asked about her charity work, and if the Middle East is on the agenda. She said that while she is usually involved in humanitarian issues, specifically those related to women, she is currently focusing on one woman, her two-year-old daughter Valentina.
However, she said she is getting her husband involved in charity work as well and that the Middle East is put into consideration.
The press conference unexpectedly took a political turn. Members of the press seem to always be curious about Hollywood stars’ take on President Obama. To answer the staple question, Hayek said that his tenure is still young and that “we have to be patient because we’ve been waiting a long time.
Asked whether US/Middle Eastern relations will improve under Obama’s presidency, Hayek said, “It’s not just the Middle East vs the US, it’s everyone. We are doing something wrong and we have to figure out what it is.
“As a human race, if we don’t change, we are in a lot of trouble, she said.
“So what will you tell your friends about Egypt? asked one of the attendees, wondering if she “felt safe in the country.
After warning him that she is “very honest, Hayek said that if she didn’t feel safe, she would’ve never brought her child to Egypt.
However, she added that the pollution is “very bad . you could see it from the plane.
“Egypt is a magnificent country, you should take care of it, she said.
The press conference only lasted 30 minutes, because the Hollywood star had a plane to catch. Photographers swarmed Hayek as she made her way out despite Suhair Abdel Qader, vice president of the Cairo International Film Festival, repeatedly telling us that “we need to make a good impression.