From sex symbol to devoted mum and entrepreneur, Jessica Alba talks about her babies, her business and how she manages to stay in superstar shape
Regularly voted as one of the ‘hottest’ actresses on the planet, Jessica Alba quickly became a household name after a career-breaking turn in James Cameron’s Dark Angel. What followed were starring roles in blockbusters Sin City, Fantastic Four, Into the Blue and Machete, a whirlwind of glamorous award shows and parties, and countless magazine shoots. But following the birth of her daughters – Honor, eight, and Haven, five – with husband Cash Warren, Alba reveals that acting no longer felt like enough. Realising how many toxic baby and household products were on the market, she decided to develop her own range. Launched in 2012, The Honest Company – which produces and distributes non-toxic household goods, baby products and an organic beauty line – is now worth over a billion dollars, an outcome Alba certainly hadn’t seen coming.
“I found my direction in life – to promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle in others because it’s so important to me and if I can help provide healthier, alternative products out there, making them accessible, it means so much to me to be able to do that,” says the 35-year-old. “And I think it’s successful because it’s from the heart, and the fact that it’s doing well just makes me happy!”
Balancing life as a CEO and mother, and a ‘side-job’ as a film star, is not easy, with an average day requiring planning, dedication and lots of colouring books. “I’ll get up at 5:15am for a hot yoga or spinning class, then make breakfast for the family, and depending on the day, take Honor and Haven to school,” explains Alba. “My kids often spend time with me at the office where they’ll bring books to read or things to colour. They also love running around the office, but fortunately I have lots of babysitters to watch over them!”
The joy and fulfilment that comes from running such an impactful enterprise is evident as the California native lists the values at the heart of the company, but the biggest delight is the legacy she is creating for her children. “My kids are proud of what their mother does and I’m proud to have a company that promotes the wellbeing of families and creating a healthy home environment for children everywhere,” she smiles.
While she thinks it’s ‘cool’ that her daughters get to see their mother wearing ‘many different hats’, there are downsides. And despite her habit of playing superheroes on screen, Alba – like all of us mere mortals – only has a finite number of hours in every day. “They don’t like it if I miss too many of their school events,” she says. “I was the only mother at school who missed one Halloween party and Honor still reminds me about that!”
Although in the last few years she has scaled back her Hollywood career, only appearing in a handful of films, when the opportunity arises to get back into finest kung fu form – like for last year’s Mechanic: Resurrection opposite Jason Statham – Alba literally leaps at the chance. “I had so much fun making that movie,” she says with an enormous (and perfect) grin. “I had to train very hard and get into top shape to be ready to handle all the stunt work that was involved. I also got to do my share of butt-kicking – I’m not just the damsel in distress.”
Judging by her perfectly toned physique, Alba takes her fitness very seriously and can still kick it with the biggest action stars in the business. But while she insists she will never turn her back on Hollywood entirely, you shouldn’t expect to find her regularly on the celebrity circuit or falling out of a club – her priority is, and always will be, her family.
“I love everything about being a parent. I didn’t even know it was possible to have this much love and joy and happiness in my life. It’s overflowing, unconditional and selfless.
I never experienced that type of thing before I had kids,” she says brightly. “It is a profound experience and I feel like I’ve finally come into my own and become the person I always should have been. I feel more grounded, free and comfortable in my own skin than I ever have before.”
For some mothers, having children can cause greater anxiety as they fret over their brood, but for Alba it has been a process of loosening up and letting go.
“Before I had kids, I was very responsible and serious,” she confesses, lowering her voice. “I used to be all about controlling my environment; everything had to be just so. Now my idea of perfection is different. You can label bins and have a place for stuff, but when the kids go into the playroom you’re not going to say, ‘We can’t paint because how are we going to clean it up?’”
The big question though, is how does a woman with so much on her slender shoulders find time to relax? “You know, spending time with my kids kind of does take all the stress away, weirdly,” she says. “I’m in the moment with them. They make me so happy; they’re pure joy. I know they’re not going to be little forever, so I really soak up as much as I can with them. That’s kind of how I de-stress.”