Salma Hayek: I Was an Illegal Immigrant

Salma Hayek admits that she has a unique perspective on the immigration issue -- because she briefly lived in the United States illegally. The Mexican actress is now a proud American citizen, but when she came to the United States at the age of 25 to study acting, her visa lapsed.

"I was an illegal immigrant in the United States," says Hayek, 44, in the Spanish edition of V magazine. "It was for a small period of time but I did it."

Hayek, who had attended an American boarding school for several years as a child, was able to renew her visa in Mexico and continue pursuing her acting career. But the gorgeous star -- who would become the first Mexican best actress nominee for Frida in 2002 -- says that her ethnicity made her first years in Hollywood incredibly challenging.

"I had to endure the worst time of all in terms of racial discrimination in Hollywood when I first started out," she says. "It was inconceivable to American directors and producers that a Mexican woman could have a lead role."

Now, Hayek says, the film and television industries have learned to celebrate the stories of Latin Americans -- thanks to trailblazers like herself and Jennifer Lopez.

"I was privileged to be part of a small generation of people who broke through that door first," she says proudly.

Are you surprised that Salma Hayek lived in the U.S. illegally? Chime in below!

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