Salma Hayek Receives Her Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Recounts Struggles from Early in Her Career
Welcome to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Salma Hayek!
On Friday, the 55-year-old actress became the 2,709th celebrity to receive a star on the iconic walkway at a special ceremony outside of the TCL Chinese Theatre.
During her acceptance speech, Hayek encouraged others to "find something to love" as much as she has loved cinema over the years.
"If you think you aren't good at it like I did, make yourself good at it," the House of Gucci star told the crowd. "It doesn't have to be the movies. Be your best at everything you do."
"Try to be better. Try to find the joy in what you do," she continued. "Work hard. Prepare. Don't care what anybody says. But most importantly, don't listen to yourself when you bring yourself down.''
Earlier in her speech, Hayek touched upon some of the struggles that she faced at the beginning of her career in the 1990s, including a scary incident in Hollywood where she was nearly stabbed by a stranger.
The actress said a "poor man who was on the floor and was very messed up" attempted to attack her after she ignored his catcall while showing a friend around the area. Eventually, Hayek said, a pair of "gentlemen" from the Hells Angels stopped the man and escorted the women to their car.
"Every time I thought about Hollywood Boulevard, this is what I remember," the star said at the ceremony. "The truth is that when I went home that night, I said 'What am I doing here? Nobody wants me. I mean, I almost got killed today.'"
The Eternals actress also recalled facing racism both in both public and professional settings. Hayek recalled one studio telling her, "Why don't you go back to the (Mexican) telenovelas? You'll never find a job here," which she claims happened "many times."
"So I said, 'Nobody wants me here. They want me in my country,'" Hayek remembered telling herself at the time.
Ultimately, she chose to stick it out. "If you ask yourself what gave me the courage to stay, I say it was you because although they didn't know me, here in Hollywood, the studios, all the Latins that are in the United States knew who I was," Hayek said. "They understood that I came here with dreams like they did."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Sandler, 55, called his Grown Ups costar and personal friend "one of the finest actresses of our generation."
"You are an amazing person," the comedian told Hayek. "You know, down-to-earth is a good phrase about Salma. She's nice to everybody ... She's an incredible actress, but honestly the nicest girl."
Zhao, 39, opened up about the support she received from Hayek during difficult moments while filming Eternals. The director lauded the Marvel star for being both an "incredible actress" and person.
"Salma is a person of incredible talent, depth, and compassion," Zhao shared. "She is a woman who is brave enough to pave her own way and never allow anyone to put her in the box."