20 Facts About Actress-Turned-Entrepreneur Jessica Alba
When most people think of Jessica Alba, they think of an actress. It makes sense. The 39-year-old has been appearing on TV shows and movies since she was 13. But around 2011, she added business to her portfolio, which has worked out pretty well for her. And, somehow, she’s been able to balance a successful career in both worlds while thriving in a long-term marriage to another actor and raising a family.
She’s dedicated, focused and has worked hard to create an inspiring life for herself (not to mention an impressive net worth).
Here are some notable facts about Alba and her extraordinary career.
Her Early Life
Jessica Alba was born in Pomona, California. Her father was in the Air Force, so, along with her younger brother Joshua, she moved around a lot as a child. She and her family lived in Texas and Mississippi before eventually settling back in California, where she would spend most of her childhood. Her father is Mexican-American and her mother is of French and Danish descent.
She Battled Childhood Health Problems
Alba battled a number of serious ailments, including a collapsed lung, a kidney infection, a ruptured appendix, a tonsillar cyst and frequent battles with pneumonia. In an interview with Larry King, she joked that her ongoing childhood illnesses were part of her inspiration for becoming an actor; she had a lot of time to live in her own imagination and fantasize about being someone else.
She Was a Standout Young Actress
With the encouragement of friends, she entered an acting competition in Beverly Hills when she 11. She won the competition and began taking acting classes. Within nine months of her win, she had an agent and was going out on major auditions.
Her Early Breaks
She snagged the lead of her first major film, “Camp Nowhere,” at age 13. She would continue working on “The Secret World of Alex Mack” and other popular shows on Nickelodeon. Starting at 15, she starred in the first two seasons of “Flipper," as shown above.
Her Health Battles Weren’t Finished
She continued to battle health problems through her teen years and beyond. She struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia, and both ADHD and asthma (which she still lives with).
She’s a Smart Cookie
In an effort to focus more on her acting career, she took on extra coursework and graduated from Claremont High School at just 16. She’s also openly talked about being bullied in high school, which could have given her extra motivation to move on from high school quickly.
She Was Kidnapped
While filming “Flipper” in Australia, the actress received a series of threatening calls, part of a plot against her. She was eventually kidnapped from the show’s set. Later that same day she was found physically unharmed in the trunk of a car. She won’t openly discuss the kidnapping in any forum.
She’s a “Dark Angel”
She’s had big roles in notable films like “Never Been Kissed” and TV shows like “90210.” But her biggest break came when she was cast as the lead role in James Cameron’s TV show “Dark Angel” in 2000. Though the show lasted only two seasons, it established Alba as an action hero and a legitimate star.
She’s a Modest Sex Symbol
Despite the fact that she has appeared on multiple ”Most Beautiful People” round-ups and “Sexiest Actress” lists, she’s a notoriously modest person. She even has a no nudity clause in her contracts, joking that she doesn’t want her grandparents to see her boobs. In the 2010 film “Machete” she appears naked, but her clothing was digitally removed.
In 2006, she appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine without her consent. The magazine stated that she had topped a “Sexiest Actress” list it created, but she wasn’t having it; she slapped the mag with a lawsuit. She insisted the magazine halt sales of the issue. For her, it wasn’t that the picture was inappropriate, but it suggested that (as many cover models had in the past) she had posed naked inside the magazine (which she had not). She eventually dropped the case after Playboy founder and owner Hugh Hefner personally apologized and generously donated to charities of her choice.
She Wasn’t Originally Cast in “Honey”
It’s one of her most memorable roles, but Alba wasn’t the original star of “Honey,” the story of an up-and-coming choreographer and her struggle to get a break in the music industry. The 2003 movie made over $62 million worldwide. The R&B singer Aaliyah was supposed to star in the film but tragically died in a plane crash before filming began. Alba stepped in to play her role.
She’s Fallen for Two Co-Stars
During her time on “Dark Angel,” she was in a relationship with her co-star and future “NCIS” star Michael Weatherly. She was 12 years younger than him at the time and, after three years together, the couple called it quits. Years later, she’d meet another actor, Cash Warren, on the set of the 2005 “Fantastic Four” movie. The couple dated for four years and have been married since 2008. They have two daughters and one boy together.
She’s a Philanthropist
Since the early years of her career, bringing awareness to, working for and donating to many different charities has been of particular importance to Alba. She’s supported The Children’s Foundation, March of Dimes and Healthy Child, Healthy World along with many others. She’s also been a strong advocate for women and children’s social justice, and for expanding educational opportunities for underserved populations around the world. She’s also a board member of Baby2Baby, which helps families in need by providing basics like diapers and supplies.
She’s a Lobbyist
In 2011, she was instrumental in supporting and lobbying for the Safe Chemicals Act, which helped families keep their loved ones free of toxic chemicals in everyday items. The legislation overhauled an outdated system to help protect Americans from exposure to known harmful substances and required better oversight and warnings.
She’s an Honest Businesswoman
In 2011, she founded The Honest Company, whose mission was to provide affordable, toxin-free products to families. She explained that she was inspired by the birth of her first child, Honor, in 2008. She was frustrated because she was unable to find affordable products she felt comfortable using on her daughter. Alba realized a need for a toxic-free, trustworthy brand in the marketplace and decided to create the very company she wished existed.
Getting Started Was Difficult
By the time her second daughter was born, her company still hadn’t launched.
It took her three years to get the $100 million in start up capital she wanted. She said being a celebrity worked against her, since people believed she lacked the substance or follow through for the company.
Alba found the start-up culture to be dominated by men. But she learned to speak up and work through tensions with other executives. Now her company boasts that women make up 65 percent of its workforce, and it has mentorship programs to help its employees — especially females — grow and climb the corporate ladder.
Her Company Is Highly Valued
The company was valued at $1.7 billion in 2015, though a recent valuation has that number below $1 billion. She maintains that despite some hiccups along the way (the company paid out hefty settlements of $1.6 million and $7.35 million for mislabeled products), she treats every challenge as a learning experience.
The company also pledges to help charitable organizations and give back to the local community.
She’s a Bestselling Author
As a follow up to launching The Honest Company she wrote, “The Honest Life” Published in 2013, the book became a New York Times best seller.
She’s Worth a Lot of Money
Between her celebrity status, her acting career and The Honest Company, Alba’s net worth is about $350 million. Since she owns 20 percent of The Honest Company, her net worth is tied up in its valuation, so it can vary depending on how the company is doing. But needless to say, she’s doing pretty alright.
She’s Good at Balancing Priorities
Though she’s spent time in the past balancing both her company and her acting career, she’s recently said she doesn’t have as much interest in acting unless she retains more creative control. She treats her acting more as something fun to do and focuses largely on her business. But despite all her financial success, she maintains that being a mother of her children has been “the most profound experience” of her life.