She accepted every offer. She wanted to please everybody. Today, Jessica Alba is a lot pickier. And there are reasons for that. We talk to the stunning actress about turning 30, making changes in her career, and her recent stint as an internet entrepreneur.
Ms. Alba, people say that 30 is a crucial age. Do you consider yourself a grown-up woman now?
Grown up? Let me put it like this: I feel a lot freer the older I get. I am a free woman and I find that very, very comfortable.
Is freedom a different word for adulthood?
I don’t think so. Adulthood doesn’t only comprise freedom but also responsibility. I accepted responsibility very early in my life. For instance, when I played the leading role in the television show Flipper at 13 years old. The project depended on my discipline of getting up every morning and doing my very best. I never had a problem with living up to the expectations that other people had in me. On the other hand, I did feel incredibly limited in terms of decision-making when I was 25 or 26.
Of what or whom have you freed yourself since then?
I was very much trying to please the people around me then. I accepted every role and every advertising job that my agents proposed to me. I did that because I didn’t have the courage to object. I also tried to fulfill the wishes of everybody on set.
Good question. I don’t know the reasons for that anymore. Maybe I was trying to be the eager beaver. I was so desperate to be successful when I was a young girl and I subordinated everything to that success. Sometimes I worked the entire year, without a break, but I didn’t really think about things that went beyond the then-current job.
"I will only sign up if the woman I play is a modern, confident, independent person. At best she would have some sort of psychic crack, be unpredictable, even a little rude."
Do you think that you might have started working too early?
I don’t think so. I wanted to become an actress at any rate, nobody could have stopped me. And that tendency of trying to please everybody would probably also have come out in any other career.
When did you realize that you just couldn’t say no?
My first daughter, Honor, was born in June 2008. It was that day that my view on the world changed. I took a one-year break from making movies and I had a lot of time to think and reflect. And I realized: there are things that are more important than making movies. When my maternity leave came to an end my agents offered me this role or that role. But they got to know a new Jessica. I just couldn’t return to that life in which I was rushing from job to job, just because I had signed a lucrative contract. Of course it was helpful that I had already earned enough money to be independent.
Did you focus on anything else when you turned those projects down?
Over the last two years I was particularly taking care of my company, which provided me with entirely new perspectives and horizons. It’s an internet mail order company called Honest.com. We are the first website that sells bio baby products. We produce our own diapers, creams, and soaps – all free of harmful substances. We started in January and so far the turnover has been surpassing all expectations.
Congratulations. What position do you hold in the company?
I am co-founder and member of the management.
Do you intend to concentrate on the company or get more involved with making movies again?
What I wasn’t aware of beforehand: how incredibly stressful starting a company is and how many decisions have to be made, starting with the personnel all the way to the products. We do now employ a manager, so I will be less involved with the daily business. But we do intend to expand and develop new products, which was most fun to me. I will concentrate on that and only make movies that I identify with 100 percent.
What does a screenwriter have to take care of, if he wants to convince Jessica Alba to take a movie role?
I am open to any genre; I play in action movies, comedies, thrillers. But I will only sign up if the woman I play is a modern, confident, independent person. At best she would have some sort of psychic crack, be unpredictable, even a little rude.
How do your agents, publicists, stylists, and managers like the new Jessica Alba who knows exactly what she wants?
It might be possible that they liked the old Jessica better, because she functioned better – but I do not know what they think because they wouldn’t tell me if I went on their nerves.
How did you celebrate your 30th birthday?
I was heavily pregnant with my second daughter Haven, so I did take it easy. We invited our best friends and the family over to our house in Los Angeles and had a little barbecue in the yard.
Does the figure 30 mean anything to you?
Back in the day, I used to not waste a second on thinking about my age. But on my birthday I thought about what it was like when my mother turned 30. I was 11 and thought: oh my God, my mother is an old lady now. From a child’s perspective, I am an old lady myself now. But I still feel pretty fresh to be honest. I think like this: I am 30 now, I have two children, and I will probably not be able to wear bikinis and short skirts for much longer – so I’ll do it now.
Photos: Courtesy of TRUNK ARCHIVE