Actress Salma Hayek was so headstrong as a young girl, she decided to move from her native Mexico to the United States - at the age of 12.

The 37-year-old FRIDA star told her parents she wanted to go to school in America, and even pretended to be her mother when she submitted her application to a Catholic girl's school in Louisiana.

She says, "They thought I was too young but I nagged them for a year. I said, 'If you don't send me, I will not study and flunk every single subject.' "

After the screen beauty's parents backed down and allowed her to go, she lasted two years at the school - even becoming a cheerleader - until a nun shooed her away.

Hayek recalls, "She encouraged me not to return. I was smart enough to know it was time to go back.

"America turned me on because I like to grow - not just be successful and respected in your society. I love the freedom this country gives me to make risky choices, to do what I want."

11/11/2003 21:03