The Oscar-winning actress, Salma Hayek, believes social media is helping women make their voices heard. Now, she says, we’re hot, smart and powerful

Salma Hayek is very good at many things. But taking selfies isn’t one of them. She might be an Oscar-nominated actress, director and producer, but until yesterday she had never handled a selfie stick.

Acknowledging the opportunity presented by being interviewed by Facebook Europe vice president Nicola Mendelsohn, she chose St James’s Church in Piccadilly, a major Advertising Week Europe venue, as the platform to launch her first Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Inviting the entire audience to join her on stage for the ad industry’s best ever selfie, she announced, ‘It’s time to pop my social media cherry!’ ‒ before swiftly apologising in the direction of the church altar behind her.

Her reticence to date, she said, had been down to her suspicion that ‘social media makes people not so present. You need to look up or you miss the people, miss life’. Still, she said, perhaps now was the time to start.

‘I searched my hashtag for the first time yesterday.

I was so moved. There were many pictures painted of me by artists, and some of them were really good. I want to celebrate those people who took the time to draw my face – I want to take pictures for them to be inspired by and to celebrate their work.’

Hayek’s latest film, an animated version of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, didn’t have a social-media strategy.

But the fi nished product is perfect for consumption on social platforms, she said.

‘You could break it down and watch it as eight different stories,’ she explains. ‘It wasn’t something I was thinking about at the time we made it, but The Prophet is perfect for the new world.

We instinctively went this way, so it was not contrived.’

Mendelssohn – herself no stranger to playing a strong woman in a man’s world – asked how Hayek found being a woman in Hollywood. The actress shot back: ‘I’m female, a Mexican and an Arab, they stop you at customs.’ Despite the odds appearing to be stacked against her, Hayek hasn’t let anything hold her back. Far from it.

‘I realised I had to do things on my own,’ she said, giving as an example her struggles in getting Frida, the film about Frida Kahlo, to the screen. ‘I could see how the film could be. But it’s a love story between a hairy, crippled woman and a fat hairy man. The kind of love story that never goes well in Hollywood. But I didn’t take no for an answer. If you have a vision for something, you should follow it.’

The depiction of women by advertisers is an important theme for AWE. We asked Hayek if advertisers could do a better job of portraying powerful women. ‘Advertisers are making an effort now, not because they are saints, but because it is dawning on them that women in their 50s have more means to buy things.

‘Now these women are saying: “We are hot, we are smart and we have the power!” I think social media is empowering the voices of these women. We are empowering ourselves and changing ideas.’