His change of heart paid off big-time. The Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, native, 31, now runs his own design firm in Hollywood, where he creates everything from $400 wood chairs to $70,000 custom entertainment centers for Hollywood bigwigs like Brad Pitt
. He has also designed two parks in Honduras and an environmentally sensitive low-and middle-income housing development now being built in Tijuana. Salma, 38, recently had Sami remodel her L.A. home, a few blocks away from his own. (Their dad, also named Sami, owns an industrial-equipment firm in Mexico; mom Diana is a former opera singer.) With designs from shelves to office buildings in development, "at some point I'll narrow my focus," says Sami, who dates marketer Daniela Serra, 26. "But I'm having too much fun right now."
Like his actress sister Salma, Sami Hayek has a flair for dramatic moments. At 19, he was in the middle of a business-school statistics test when he suddenly realized he wanted to be an artist. "I stood up, turned my test in, walked to a phone booth, woke my dad up and said, I'm out.' " Sami recalls. "My dad just moaned, 'Your head is not right.' "