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Salma Hayek Pinault Honored at UNICEF Ball

By Ashley Hume
Posted On May 24, 2018
Salma Hayek Pinault Honored at UNICEF Ball

Salma Hayek Pinault is known worldwide for her three-decade career as a leading Hollywood actress, earning an Oscar nomination in 2002 for her star-making turn in Frida. However, many people are not as familiar with the actress’s extraordinary humanitarian efforts and ongoing crusade to end maternal and neonatal tetanus.  At the seventh biennial UNICEF Ball held on April 14, Salma was awarded the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for her charitable work with the organization.


During her acceptance speech, Salma recounted a heartbreaking interaction that occurred when she accompanied UNICEF on a 2008 tetanus campaign in Sierra Leone.  While administering tetanus shots, the actress was approached by a malnourished teenage mother who pleaded for milk to nurse her newborn baby.


“This 15-year-old girl is sobbing and shaking with a newborn baby and she said, ‘Please help me. I need milk.’ We had so many things but we didn’t have milk, except I remembered that I had milk because I was weaning my daughter. I just weaned my daughter not too long ago and I said, ‘I got milk.’“ Salma recalled, “I sat down and I breastfed this baby.”


The actress also described her devastation when a newborn baby died in her arms from tetanus.  In the years following the trip, Salma has traveled to 44 countries with UNICEF in an effort to eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus.


The event also honored Ambassador Nicole Avant and Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix, who received the Spirit of Compassion Award for their philanthropic work supporting children, which was presented by their friend and actress Jane Fonda.


Hosted by Keegan Michael-Key and featuring a performance by Pharrell Williams, the event was raised over $2.3 million for UNICEF’s global humanitarian mission. Over 600 guests attended including UNICEF Ambassador Alyssa Milano, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh, Molly Sims, Don Johnson and Suzanne Somers among many other notables.


Ahead of the event, Alyssa Milano spoke with New You exclusively on the red carpet, opening up about her inspiring work with UNICEF. The actress told New You that she felt adrift in her life after returning to Los Angeles from volunteering in South Africa in the early 2000s. After Alyssa started volunteering at a local children’s hospital, her mother, impressed with the humanitarian work of Danny Kaye, recommended that she contact UNICEF


“I’ve been an ambassador for 15 years.” Alyssa said. “I’m just really proud of all the work that they do. They save more children’s lives than any other organization on the planet.  Any opportunity that I get to support what they do and come out and educate people on how important UNICEF is to the world, I’m here. “