With the Southwest Book Fiesta in two days, I can't help but think of my sixty seconds with actress, Salma Hayek. At the Book Fiesta, I'm hoping to meet someone in the industry who can jump start my career. A few years ago, I met Salma Hayek who nearly did.
When I was at the AFI, the school would bring in prominent directors for screenings at the school's small theater. I don't remember the film, but Ed Norton was the director du jour. The film wasn't very good, and all of the students were a bit restless. No was that excited when he went onto the stage.
And then we saw that he had brought his girlfriend . . .
The short Latina in the corner wore very high heels, jeans and a leather jacket and kept glancing at her watch as Ed Norton droned on, and on and on . . .
"That's Salma Freaking Hayek," I whispered to my neighbor. I had written a draft of Rattlesnake Lawyer already, but I was yet to create the Luna Cruz character in Crater County, but I knew one thing. Salma Hayek would be perfect for the part of a screenplay I had yet to write. She had just been in Desperado, and one small film, Mi Vida Loca, but this was long before Frida.
My friends must have thought the same thing. We might as well have been the orphans in Oliver Twist. "You talk to her," a screenwriting student said, "No, you," said a director.
"I'll talk to her," I said at last. I think I started writing the new novel at that very moment.
After Ed Norton finished, he was mobbed by a few students hoping to get him to produce their screenplays, Salma waited alone in the corner, glancing at her watch yet again. Other than a few male film students, no one recognized, or if they did, she was just another actress.
"You're Salma Hayek," I said when I approached her.
She rolled her eyes. She didn't extend her hand.
"You were Sad Girl in Mi Vida Loca," I said.
She actually smiled. "No one saw that film."
She then looked over at Ed Norton who was practically giving another lecture to the five students in the corner. She really was a sad girl, feeling abandoned and ignored. She looked at her watch again. I figured I had sixty seconds.
What do I say to her? I haven't started writing my second novel yet, but if it ever becomes a film, you would be perfect for the lead? As I was a little older than the average student, she wondered who I was. The fact that I knew about her first role in an obscure film meant that I was someone with knowledge at the very least. Could I be someone who could help her career?
She expected me to say something more. "Umm...You were great in Desperado," I said.
Wrong thing to say.
"Everybody tells me that," she said. She rolled her eyes again. Ed Norton was finishing up with the last eager film student. He pushed away the script that the man tried to hand him. He gave her a look that he was on his way over to rescue her.
She gave me one more glance, daring me to say something that would justify another sixty seconds of conversation. She fiddled with her purse. If I said the right thing, she might give me her card. The fate of Luna Cruz rested on the next second of my life.
Every clever idea in my life flashed before me, but I couldn't think of anything. Without another word, she literally turned her back on me and went over to Ed Norton. The two hurried off out of the theater and went to wherever they were going.
I don't know who's going to be at the Southwest Book Fiesta when I talk on Friday. Perhaps there is a film producer looking for new projects. There might be an internet guru who can market my books to the masses. Perhaps even the book reviewer for the New York Times will hear me talk and write a glowing review on the front page of the Times.
I know one person who won't be there-- Salma Hayek.