Actor and activist Salma Hayek shared rare details of her work on behalf of women on Wednesday at TheWrap‘s 6th annual Power Women Breakfast in Beverly Hills, saying she preferred to “live” her activism “instead of talk about it.”
The Oscar-nominated actress spoke emotionally about her philanthropic work at a packed breakfast for 150 Hollywood women executives. Hayek has worked across the globe, from Guatemala to Mexico to India and the African continent, focused mainly on preventing domestic violence.
“If you want to stop violence in the world it has to start in the home,” the Mexico-born star said Wednesday. “If we can win this war, we can win the war against violence. “
Hayek also recalled how she got cosmetics giant Avon to support the fight against domestic violence. While she was in negotiations to front their brand, Avon was focused on promoting cancer research. Instead, Hayek convinced the company to take on both causes. The company has since raised over $90 million to help combat domestic violence.
“I worked with them for 10 years. I still work with them even though we don’t have a contract,” Hayek revealed.
The actress then explained why she’s downplayed her charity work in the public sphere over the years by saying, “I was so passionate about it that to me it was a part of me that had nothing to do with being a celebrity.”
She also shared her philosophy for inspiring others to help, instead of just supporting causes verbally.
“Sometimes you do more awareness by being aware of yourself and living in the presence of this awareness than by talking until you die,” she said. As an example, she recounted that when her husband, French billionaire Francois Henri Pinault, saw she had given up a luxury vacation to do charity work in South America, he was inspired to launch the Kering Foundation, to combat violence against women.
“The fact that my husband saw what I did, that awareness, not through a pamphlet but through seeing it, inspired him to go out and do something, which became a much bigger thing,” Hayek said.
While she attacked various charitable causes early on, in recent years she’s focused on combating domestic violence. “I don’t come from a background of domestic violence, but I think it’s incredibly important,” she said.
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