Theater Chat: Salma Hayek on being nominated for an Oscar

Back in August 2018, Salma Hayek won an Oscar — in an Oscar — for her role in Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, and now she has awarded an Oscar at the Tribeca Film Festival. This time, Hayek says, her Oscar for her work on the Kahlil Gibran film, which screened as part of the festival’s short film program, was deserved, because she is one of the only survivors of an attempted rape in Mexico. “If it weren’t for a very brave, intelligent, maybe a little slow-minded girl from Ayotzinapa,” she told me, speaking by phone from Paris, “I wouldn’t be standing here at the podium at the Tribeca Film Festival” as a nominee for best actress. But when she learned of her nomination, she added, “I immediately started sobbing.”

Born in Mexico and raised in the U.S., Hayek is a devout Catholic who carries rosary beads while in Paris, though she says that was not the focus of her movie The Prophet. Although the most famous biographical work of Gibran is Children of the Night, “The Rules of the Game” is the fifth most popular Gibran book of all time, and is often the basis for debate about politics. In Gibran’s setting, as part of the Arab-Muslim Middle East of ancient times, civilizations clash with one another, and there are many conflict areas, such as the Syria-Gibran war, where people do not really know what “he who lives in the shade of the tree” really means.

Hayek says she plans to use her Oscar, if she wins it, to promote peace between tribes and countries and to have discussions in the Academy, so that people don’t make decisions based on sound bites. And she says that if she ever returns to Mexico, “I’m going to take him [the attacker] in my arms, and walk him home with me and punch him in the face and say, ‘Now we know one thing about the world. That it can be changed. We can write better than other groups of people.’”

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