Salma Hayek was once an illegal immigrant in the US.

The Mexican actress - who moved to Los Angeles in 1991 to study acting after a period spent at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans as a child - was illegally in the country for a "small period" of time.

The 44-year-old beauty told the Spanish edition of V Magazine: "I was an illegal immigrant in the United States. It was for a small period of time, but I still did it."

The Hollywood star, who is now a naturalised US citizen and has three-year-old daughter Valentina with husband Francois Henri-Pinault, also reveals her belief the film industry was racist when she first started out because no one wanted a Mexican lead actress.

She said: "I had to endure the worst time of all in terms of racial discrimination in Hollywood when I first started out.

"It was inconceivable to American directors and producers that a Mexican woman could have a lead role."

Earlier this year, Salma claimed Hollywood was finally growing to accept Latino stars.

She said: "Hollywood has definitely grown, in embracing the inclusion of Latinos in the world because, for some time, we didn't exist. We were not part of any stories.

"There are 40 million of us in the US. It was weird. I was very privileged to be part of a small generation of people that broke through that door first, but I didn't do it by myself. Jennifer Lopez was also part of it. Ricky Martin was a huge part of it. There was a group of people and great timing."