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You know her from quite a few movies: From Dusk Til Dawn, Traffic and Savages, among others (and also for being married to billionaire Francios-Henri Pinault). But way before Salma Hayek landed that first Hollywood role alongside Antonio Banderas in Desperado, in 1995, she gained her acting chops in Mexican telenovelas. Click through to see some pretty memorable photos of where she and other Latino stars were before they crossed over.
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SALMA IN 1989
Here's Salma in 1989, when she starred in the acclaimed telenovela Teresa in her native Mexico. This was the role that catapulted her to full stardom. Nice hairdo!
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Remember when he first sang at the 1999 Grammys and took the anglo music world by storm? Then came Livin' La Vida Loca and Ricky Martin became a household name in American pop culture. Today, this Puerto Rican has become a huge Latino icon, not only as a singer and actor but also as an activist, deeply involved in the fight for gay rights and other causes. But let's take a trip back to the 80s and look at Ricky waaay back then. See the next photo!
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RICKY IN 1984
Of course, Ricky had the girls screaming at an early age as a member of Latino boy band Menudo. Here he is at age 13 driving the fans crazy in Mexico.
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Who in America doesn't love Sofía Vergara? She is hilarious in her role as Gloria in Modern Family, and she's also really funny as herself during interviews (maybe because her character and her actual persona are kind of the same). We're actually surprised it's taken Sofía so long to find success in Hollywood. She was quite a hit from early on in the Hispanic market. Take a look at the next photo...
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SOFIA IN 1992
Here's Sofia at Univision's "Lo Nuestro" awards in 1992. She is naturally blonde and was extremely successful on Spanish television with her golden hair, but she's had to dye it dark in order to find roles in Hollywood. Go figure...
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GAEL GARCIA BERNAL
Mexican actor Gael García Bernal became a well-known face in the United States thanks to films like Y tu mamá también, Babel, The Science of Sleep, The Motorcylce Diaries and others. More recently, he starred in A Little Bit of Heaven alongside Kate Hudson. But did you know that Gael's acting career started when he was just a child? If you didn't, you'll be pretty blown away by the next photo...
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GAEL IN 1992
How cute is this photo? This is Gael García 20 years ago, in 1992, when he starred in Mexican telenovela El abuelo y yo (Grandpa and Me). Standing next to him is Mexican actress Ludwika Paleta (age 33 now). Can you believe they even made them kiss —as in fully make out— in that telenovela? Those crazy producers...
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There is only one female Latino singer who's literally taken over the world —her music is a hit in every continent— and that's Colombian beauty Shakira. Her crossover into the U.S. market came in 2001 with her song "Whenever, wherever". It took some time, but America slowly warmed up to her music (as her English got better, too) and she even did a duet with Beyoncé, something other Latina singers could only wish for. Well deserved, because she'd spent years and years selling millions of records all over Latin America. See the next photo!
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SHAKIRA IN 1996
Here's Shakira back in 1996, when she'd just released her breakthrough album Pies descalzos (Bare Feet). Back then there was not one Latino nightclub in the world that woulnd't play her hit song "Estoy aquí" ("Here I Am").
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A year ago you had no idea who this guy was. Then he went on Dancing With the Stars in March of this year (with dance partner Cheryl Burke, photographed here), and then boom! Women all over the United States started going crazy over Cuban actor William Levy, and he even landed the cover of People magazine. Where did this guy come from? Check the next photo.
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WILLIAM LEVY IN 2007
Ok, folks, this is as telenovela-esque as it can possibly get. William sported hair extensions and rather cheesy outfits in 2007's Pasión (of course it was going to be called Passion!). Hey, it worked! It was success after success from there, as he starred in bigger and bigger Hispanic soaps. Did you know that he turned down a role in Magic Mike? We bet he's regretting that, but hey, he has more than a couple of movie projects brewing.
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Spanish actress Penélope Cruz made her mark in Hollywood with films like Vanilla Sky and Vicky Christina Barcelona and To Rome with Love, just to name a few. She was, however, a very seasoned actress way before she moved to LA full time...
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PENÉLOPE IN 1992
Back in the early 90s, Penélope had some TV roles and was a video girl on Spanish pop band Mecano's music videos. But it was her movie debut in Bigas Luna's Jamón Jamón (1992), when she was still a teenager, that catapulted her to fame in her native Spain. Incidentally, it was on the set of that film that she met future husband Javier Bardem, although they wouldn't start dating til several years after. And speaking of Bardem...
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Just last month he got his star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A well-deserved achievement for Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2007 for his role in No Country for Old Men, and who's currently America's favorite villain on Skyfall. Much like wife Penélope Cruz, his acting career was rock solid before he hit Hollywood...
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JAVIER BARDEM IN 1992
Here's Bardem in 1992's Jamón jamón, which he co-starrred with future wife Penélope Cruz. It was the first of several Spanish language films that would win him critical acclaim as an actor.
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ANA DE LA REGUERA
You may remember her as Encarnación, the sweet nun from the 2006 movie Nacho Libre, where she starred alongside Jack Black. Ana de la Reguera has also had roles in American TV series like Royal Pains and Eastbound & Down, but much like Salma Hayek and other colleagues, she too started out in telenovelas. Click on for a blast from the past...
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ANA DE LA REGUERA IN 1998
Fancy! This is Ana in 1998's Tentaciones (Temptations), where she played the villainess role of Fernanda Segovia. The telenovela only lasted a few weeks before it was pulled from the air.
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You may remember Mexican actor Diego Luna for some of his roles in movies alongside best pal Gael García Bernal, like Y tu mamá también and the recent comedy Casa de mi Padre, also starring Will Ferrell. His acting career, however, dates way back to when he was just a kid...
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DIEGO LUNA IN 1999
In this photo from 1999, Luna was at the premiere of the film Todo el poder (All the Power), also featuring 2012 Academy Award nominee for Best Actor Demián Bichir. Even before then, Luna had also acted in several (some legendary) telenovelas, including El abuelo y yo in 1992, sharing the set with best friend Gael García Bernal.
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Spanish actor Antonio Banderas carved his niche in Hollywood in the mid 90s, and has starred in several successful films, such as Desperado, Original Sin, the Spy Kids saga, Shrek and Puss in Boots. And let's just say marrying actress Melanie Griffith also helped in making him a Latino staple in Hollywood. This Latin lover, however, was already a successful actor by the time he got to the land of Uncle Sam and McDonald's...
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ANTONIO BANDERAS IN 1986
Over there to the left is Banderas in Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar's 1986 movie Matador, where he starred alongside actress Eva Cobos. Matador was just one of several films in which Banderas starred in the 1980s —many of them directed by the legendary Almodóvar, who has actually called Matador one of his weakest films.
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Genesis Rodríguez played the beautiful Sonia in the Spanish-language American comedy Casa de mi Padre, starring the hilarious Will Ferrell. You may also have also seen her in What to Expect When You're Expecting. She was known in the Hispanic world as the young daughter of Venezuelan singer José Luis 'El Puma' Rodríguez, but has managed to make a name for herself with convincing acting. She has three upcoming movies with stars like Jason Bateman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Walker. And guess where she came from?
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GENESIS IN 2009
Yes, Génesis also hails from the world of telenovelas. Here she is in a promotional shot from 2009's Doña Bárbara, which aired on Telemundo.