Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images
Jonathan Borge
Aug 07, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

Salma Hayek is taking on a bold new role with her latest project, The Prophet, in which she gives voice to an animated character named Kamila. While cartoon flicks often lean toward the light-hearted, her new project is far more serious. Based on an adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 book of the same name, the movie is a compilation of poems that address life's  important milestones. Below, during a conversation with AOL Build yesterday in New York, Hayek explained why she worked so diligently on the film, which she also produced, and what it's like to experience the changing roles of women in Hollywood.

She has a years-long history with book, thanks to her grandfather.
"I have a personal relationship with the book. [My grandfather] had the book on his bedside table. We were very close and he died when I was six. He did teach me one thing about life, which is death. When I was about 18 years old I found the book again and I recognized the cover from my grandfather’s bedside table. When I read this book I felt like it was my grandfather coming to me and teaching me about life through this book, and about who he was."

RELATED: Watch Salma Hayek Get Covered with Puppies on The Tonight Show

Hayek is not afraid of a creative challenge.
"I guess I’m one of those people that [doesn't] fit in anybody’s box. The things that I come up with or that I want to see are not what are out there. I really detest producing, unless it’s really something that speaks to my heart and that I want to say. There’s always that beautiful angel that says, 'You can never get this done,' and all of a sudden there’s like an injection of adrenaline that makes me want to prove them wrong. This is what gives me all the energy to fight for years."

This film, she says, will speak to everyone.
"I wanted to make a film that was for human beings, with human parts inside the books that are so rarely addressed. This book was perfect because it has sold more than 120 million copies around the world. It was written by an Arab man yet he united all religions, different generations, different countries, and I think it’s because he talks about the simple things in life—death, love, children—that bring us all together. When you read this book something really strange happens: Your soul recognizes it as the truth."

Animation was the best platform to get the story’s message across.
"I thought—and all of us thought—that animation was the right vehicle because art is limitless. We could take the poetry and turn it into beautiful art pieces. We created a simple story frame that is very friendly for all the kids. For the adults, it gave them permission to be kids again, so that you could take all the beautiful words and art with a light heart. We were careful not to be preachy, not to be boring, and this is why we decided to make it into an animation."

How does she feel about Hollywood’s perspective of her?
"Who cares? I’m not going to sit here, ‘Oh no, Hollywood doesn’t want me. What am I gonna do?’ No. Hollywood doesn’t want me? Great. Adversity is your best teacher. This is my motto. I do not give myself permission to whine about anything that I didn't try to change, that I didn't make an effort to transform or to make it into a positive thing. Equality for men and women. Women’s rights. Children’s rights."

Voicing the power of Latino women inspired her to produce Ugly Betty.
As you can see, the second thing I produced was not for me. It was trying to find someone else that was not the person that everybody is casting. Ugly Betty is the name of the show. Really? Do you think the person that was going to do that was going to be the person that you see in all of the television shows and the magazines? No. I wanted to find ugly, beautiful Betty. But also, to give parts to others that work for others but also to have my own voice.

She’s hopeful for the future of women.
I am passionate about the potential of women. I am excited for the world because it’s in such bad condition t’s only used half of its potential. It’s really not investigated the wonders of the other half because even the women that get into power, we don't really know who we are because we have been for history trying to fit in and be accepted by systems that are created by men. So, I try to look inside of myself—also not just talk about. What can I do? What can I do differently? Hence the movie. I work on the films and a lot of my greatest inspirations come from the everyday women that I have to work with that are so courageous.

The Prophet hits select theaters in New York and Los Angeles today—watch the trailer below.

With films like Frida under her likely Saint Laurent belt, Salma Hayek is no stranger to undergoing transformations for a movie role. But for her latest project, The Prophet, the actress brings to life an animated character named Kamila. It’s usual for cartoon-filled portrayals to evoke feelings of cuteness, but, as Hayek told a crowd of fans for a conversation with AOL Build yesterday in New York, her starring and producing role in this piece is a labor of love. Hayek’s passion project is an adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 book, The Prophet, which is a compilation of poems filled with life lessons. Below, Hayek explains why she worked so diligently on the film, how the message is empowering, and the changing roles of women in Hollywood.

She has a years-long history with book thanks to her grandfather.

"I have a personal relationship with the book. [My grandfather] had the book on his bedside table and we were very close and he died when I was six. He did teach me one thing about life, which is death. When I was about 18 years old I found the book again and I recognized the cover from my grandfather’s bedside table and I read it and when I read this book I felt like it was my grandfather coming to me and teaching me about life through this book and about who he was."

RELATED: Watch Salma Hayek Get Covered with Puppies on The Tonight Show

Hayek is not afraid of a challenge, hence why she decided to produce the film.

"I guess I’m one of those people that [doesn't] fit in anybody’s box. The things that I come up with or that I want to see are not what are out there. I really detest producing, unless it’s really something that speaks to my heart and that I want to say. There’s always that beautiful angel that says, you can never get this done, and all of a sudden there’s like an injection of adrenaline that makes me want to prove them wrong. This is what gives me all the energy to fight for years."

This film, she says, will speak to everyone.

"I wanted to make a film that was for human beings, with human parts inside the books that are so rarely addressed and this book was perfect because it is a book that has sold more than 120 million copies around the world. It was written by an Arab man yet he united all religions, different generations, different countries and because I think it’s because he talks about the simple things in life, death, love, children, that brings us all together and when you read this book something really strange happens…your soul recognizes it as the truth."

Animation was the best platform to get the story’s message across.

"I thought and all of us thought that animation was the right vehicle because art is limitless so we could take the poetry and turn it into beautiful art pieces. We created a simple story frame that is very friendly for all the kids and for the adults it gave them permission to be kids again so that you could take all the beautiful wars and art with a light heart. We were careful not to be preachy, not to be boring and this is why we decided to make it into an animation."

How does she feel about Hollywood’s perspective of her?

"Who cares? I’m not going to sit here, ‘oh no, Hollywood doesn’t want me, what am I gonna do?’ No. Hollywood doesn’t want me? Great. Adversity is your best teacher. This is my motto. I do not give myself permission to whine about anything that I didn't try to change, that I didn't make an effort to transform or to make it into a positive thing. Equality for men and women. Women’s rights. Children’s rights."

Voicing the power of Latino women inspired her to produce Ugly Betty.

As you can see, the second thing I produced was not for me. It was to try to find someone else that was not the person that everybody is casting. Ugly Betty is the name of the show. Really? Do you think the person that was going to do that was going to be the person that you see in all of the television shows and the magazines? No. I wanted to find ugly, beautiful Betty. But also, to give parts to others that work for others but also to have my own voice.

She’s hopeful for the future of women.

I am passionate about the potential of women. I am excited for the world because it’s in such bad condition but it’s only used half of its potential. It’s really not investigated the wonders of the other half because even the women that get into power, we don't really know who we are because we have been for history trying to fit in and be accepted by systems that are created by men. So, I try to look inside of myself also not just talk about, what can I do, what can I do differently? Hence the movie. I work on the films and a lot of my greatest inspirations come from the everyday woman that I have to work with that are so courageous.

The Prophet hits select theatres in New York and Los Angeles today—watch the trailer below.

You May Like