Salma Hayek just launched the second annual Pampers/UNICEF program to stop the spread of maternal and neonatal tetanus. The 42-year-old mom recently opened up about her trip to Africa, the importance of her charity work, and how she breast-fed a starving child in Africa.
In its first year, the Pampers/UNICEF program provided money for more than 45 million tetanus vaccines. “I’ve done a lot of social work, primarily with abused women and women’s rights. I had the baby and I had so much on my plate, and I said that this year, I’m taking a break from charity. I cannot do it all. But then this came along. And I said no. Then I read what it was, and I was so screwed because you cannot walk away from this one.”
Last fall, Hayek traveled to Sierra Leone, Africa, where she saw the devastating affects of the disease firsthand. “Before we got to the hotel, we stopped at a hospital. (A woman) was trying to breast-feed the baby, and the baby wouldn’t take it anymore. I said, ‘I think we shouldn’t be here.’ As we walked out, two to three minutes later, the baby died,” she says. “I’ll never forget the look of desperation on that woman’s face. How can you not get involved, especially when you have a child yourself?”
Click below to read about Salma breast-feeding a hungry baby in Africa…
Hayek went on to recall encountering a newborn child in a clinic in need of food during her trip to Africa. “The baby was perfectly healthy, but the mother didn’t have milk. He was very hungry. I was weaning Valentina, but I still had a lot of milk that I was pumping, so I breast-fed the baby,” she says, her voice dropping. You should have seen his eyes. When he felt the nourishment, he immediately stopped crying.”
When asked if she would like to have more children she replied, “Maybe. We’ll see. I have to work a little bit. I am 42. I had her at 41. I don’t sleep because she doesn’t sleep, but I have a lot of energy,” she says. “I don’t feel like, ‘Oh my God, this is too late.’ When you turn 40, it’s a lot easier than 30. They lied when they said you get old when you’re 40. The best is the 40s.”
Was Salma addicted to nursing Valentina, as a British entertainment magazine reported? Salma shakes her head, saying she stopped breast-feeding her daughter months ago. “We were two weeks off, and then she grabbed it again. One time she asked me for it and I said no. It was so easy. I explained to her why. She looked at me and she understood. She kissed me and that was it,” she says. “I underestimated my child. It’s the best thing somebody can do for their child. (But) you have to know when to stop.”
Hayek and Valentina’s father François-Henri Pinault, who’s the head of the French luxury retail group PPR (which owns brands including Gucci and Balenciaga), juggle their schedules to make their long-distance relationship work. Salma François-Henri called off their engagement last year but remain a couple.
“This is the best father. I was meant to have this baby with this man. I am so happy I didn’t settle and I waited for him,” she says. “Had I not, I don’t know what my life would be like. You always have to believe there’s a greater future, and you have to recognize it when it comes.”
Salma has also been hard at work doing a six-episode arc on NBC’s 30 Rock as Alec Baldwin’s love interest. She also manages two production companies, one of them runs ABC’s Ugly Betty, and is considering two movie scripts she’d like to star in this year. “I’m having a hard time picking because I don’t want to do violent things, I don’t want to do too-dark things, and I’m getting those offers,” she says. “I’m being very picky. I haven’t worked in a long time, but I’m doing pretty great. I don’t want to go to a dark space right now.”