Born on September 2, 1966, in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Salma is the daughter of a Spanish descended mother and a Lebanese descended father. She is considered the first Mexican actress to become a Hollywood movie star since Delores Del Rio. Salma was raised in Coatzacoalcos,
at twelve, her parents sent her to a catholic boarding school in Louisiana. Salma was suspended from the private school and sent home after just 2 years.
Her aptitude for mischief, usually directed against the nuns who ran the school, played a key roll in her dismissal. Salma finished high school in Mexico, and then went to live with her aunt in Houston until she was seventeen.
Salma relocated to Mexico City to attend college, where she studied international relations. She had harbored her desire to become an actress for years, and she finally confronted her parents and told them of her aspiration to pursue acting.
Despite her parents disapproval, Salma quite college and pursued her acting career. Salma started in plays at neighborhood theaters, which led to jobs in television commercials, which in turn yielded a casting in "Nuevo Amanecer", a daytime TV serial. Selma was then cast as the title character in an extraordinarily popular soap opera, "Theresa".
Salma's popularity grew quickly and soon she was the most fervently adored actress in Mexico. Rather than settle into the stardom she had, Salma decided to risk it all by moving to Los Angeles in 1991. She worked hard to get going and took intensive acting and English lessons.
In 1993, she got her first break. Salma didn't get the large role she wanted in Allison Anders' "Mi Vida Loca", but it qualified her for membership in the Screen Actors Guild. Salma's appearance on a Spanish-language cable access talk show led to her big break.
Mexican American director Robert Rodriguez was so impressed with the sparkling charisma and dazzling appearance of Salma that he immediately cast her in the female lead in "Desperado". She received rave reviews for her exceptional performance and sizzling sexy style.