Jessica Alba: ‘I was never that girl. I never dated people to be successful’

alba the edit

It feels like Jessica Alba just covered The Edit a few months ago, but I’m probably thinking of her recent Allure cover or something. In the past few years, Alba has been more and more engaged and engaging in the media, but it’s not for any movie role – it’s always about The Honest Company, Alba’s billion-dollar company. In The Edit, Alba chats with Tory Burch, her friend and a fellow lady CEO. The whole piece is actually pretty interesting – go here to read. Some highlights.

Alba on whether she was underestimated: “Certainly people in Hollywood underestimated me. They absolutely, 100 percent thought I was nuts. In Hollywood they don’t really build businesses, so they don’t really understand what I’m doing. It’s hard for people to take you seriously when you’re known for entertaining, because there are preconceived ideas of what it is to be an entertainer. But you have to have a lot of heart [to be an actor], a lot of drive. You face a lot of rejection, too, and it takes a certain kind of person to withstand that.”

Alba isn’t just some actress/model: “People are used to seeing someone in my position associated with a brand through an endorsement deal: you show up, they give you your talking points, you say those things, maybe you’re on a couple of billboards, that’s it. I am not that person. I think a bunch of actresses feel like, ‘Oh, I have this platform and all these people are making money off of me, I should be able to get a piece of that,’ and that’s where their intentions are.”

How she deals with criticism: “It pisses me off! But as a woman, as an actress, I’ve dealt with that before. I’ve dealt with people undermining me; I’ve dealt with people thinking that I would do anything to get ahead and be successful. I was never that girl. I never dated people to be successful, I never compromised myself, or my beliefs, or my values to get ahead. And you know, in a weird way, I liked it when they didn’t believe in me. It fueled me.”

Working motherhood: “My girls ask why I work, but I think it’s more of a rhetorical question at this point; they just want to spend time with me. Kids don’t want to be understanding. And they shouldn’t be at this age! When they are 18 they will have perspective, but at four and seven they are just living in their own little world, and it’s all immediate gratification. Sometimes I do a better job at turning off, but right now I have just launched Honest Beauty, with 87 products, and I’m not doing a great job at managing my time. I’m traveling too much, I’m staying at the office too late, and I don’t know how to shut off completely when I go home. But it’s challenging to be a working parent, whether you are a woman or a man.

The gendered words, like “bossy” or “difficult”: “I’ve actually felt this more in the entertainment industry. People never say a male actor is difficult, they call him smart, but if a woman did the same thing, she would be considered a bitch… I find it funny when I get called ambitious! I’ve even had my agents do intros and say, ‘She’s a very ambitious young lady.’ And I’m always like, ‘What the f–k does that mean?!’

[From The Edit]

“I’ve dealt with people thinking that I would do anything to get ahead and be successful. I was never that girl. I never dated people to be successful, I never compromised myself, or my beliefs, or my values to get ahead.” Do you believe her? I think I believe her. Before Cash Warren, Alba was never really in showmances (although she was engaged to Michael Weatherly early on) and it definitely felt like she wasn’t parlaying much of her personal life for professional gain. As for gendered words… I agree that “bossy” is a gendered word, and “difficult” has a gendered context too. But “ambitious” to me can go either way. Like, Leonardo DiCaprio is really ambitious this year. It’s his ambition to hustle his way into the Best Actor Oscar. See?

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Photos courtesy of The Edit.

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24 Responses to “Jessica Alba: ‘I was never that girl. I never dated people to be successful’”

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  1. Daria Morgendorffer says:

    I believe she is sincere in saying that she has never compromised herself to get ahead or used anyone. I think she is a complete opportunist though. Not related to this article, but I think it says a lot about her. Jessica Alba became really vocal about feeling oh so connected to her Latina roots, when Latinas finally got recognition in Hollywood. This was after making all sorts of comments about how un-Latina she was. Perez Hilton used to refer to her as “Jessica ‘Don’t Call me Latina’ Alba”

    “Alba is my last name and I’m proud of that. But that’s it. My grandparents were born in California, the same as my parents, and though I may be proud of my last name, I’m American. Throughout my whole life, I’ve never felt connected to one particular race or heritage, nor did I feel accepted by any. If you break it down, I’m less Latina than Cameron Diaz, whose father is Cuban. But people don’t call her Latina because she’s blonde.”

    “My grandfather was the only Mexican at his college, the only Hispanic person at work and the only one at the all-white country club. He tried to forget his Mexican roots, because he never wanted his kids to be made to feel different in America. He and my grandmother didn’t speak Spanish to their children. Now, as a third-generation American, I feel as if I have finally cut loose.”

    “My whole life, when I was growing up, not one race has ever accepted me, … So I never felt connected or attached to any race specifically. I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don’t speak Spanish. So, to say that I’m a Latin actress, OK, but it’s not fitting; it would be insincere.”

    When she was pregnant with her first baby, she was giving interviews to Latina magazine about how Latina she felt and how she couldn’t wait for her baby to be brown.

    I’ve digressed, but my point is that she seems to say anything she believes will be popular or get her attention. I’m not sure how much of the work she actually does herself with the Honest Company, but she does seem to take a lot of credit.

    • Mayamae says:

      If she was anticipating brown babies, she must have been surprised when the second popped out a little redhead. I love genetics.

    • V4Real says:

      Well she’s right about the Cameron Diaz comparison.

      Can we name any rolls where Cam’s has played Latino or mixed heritage.

    • JA says:

      Thanks for including the quotes as for years I’ve heard the same Don’t call me Latina but then saw her constantly on Latin magazines and promotions. I agree she sounds like an opportunist and or hypocrite.

      I’d like to know how involved she is in the actual business side of Honest. She keeps getting praised as a genius for building a billion dollar company but can we see what she actually did and not what business savvy professionals told her to do and say?

      I’ve never been a fan but I’d give credit where credit is due if she could prove she is as smart as she thinks she is.

    • Naya says:

      Meh. I have no issue letting mixed race persons define their own identity and if she is evolving in that identity, then whateva. She does seem to have been worried in her early career that she would be pegion holed as Latina and never have access to white roles. I think most fair people can sympathise with this even if you personally wouldnt make the same decision. Would she have scored her bigger roles if she was marketed as Latina or would she have been trapped playing hot tempered Columbian/Mexican drug dealer girlfriends?

      But in addition to that, her entire family went to great lengths to completely intergrate. On Finding Your Roots they revealed that one of her grandparents was the first latino to be allowed in a white school having challenged the school district in court. Jessica had never heard this story, iIt just wasnt passed down in the family. Can you imagine such an amazing story being lost in under a generation? Its pretty clear that grandparent just wanted to fit in and tried to forget everything that put him and his family apart from the mainstream. Thats what she was born into, on the latino side.

  2. V4Real says:

    She never dated anyone to be successful.

    That I truly believed because of who she married. Most people had never heard of Cash Warren until she started dating and then married him. I remember his father Michael Warren from that old cop show called Hill Street Blues.

  3. Lou says:

    I think people blow all these showmances out of proportion. Some people think every couple in Hollywood is a showmance – Justin and Selena, Taylor and Harry, Emma and Andrew, Rob and Kristen, Zac andVanessa etc … Basically i think if people dislike a couple it’s = showmance in their eyes. It might have been common place years ago but not now, at least not the ones that last into the years and they are actually seen together all the time and spend holidays together.

    You have to hand it to Jessica, i definitely underestimated her. I don’t know if she just hit it lucky or she just has great people around her or she genuinely has great business acumen, but she’s done good.

    • LAK says:

      Are you kidding?

      Showmances, either as fake arrangement or a step up the career ladder, are not called out enough.

      They’ve been a major selling point of Hollywood since forever.

      As the public has become PR savvy, it’s harder to pull off Showmances, but don’t kid yourself that they aren’t happening or they have lessened.

      It doesn’t exclude Showmances that turn into real relationships.

      • Lou says:

        Nope. Not buying it. Sometimes y’all need to chill with the conspiracy theories.

      • Anon33 says:

        They’re not conspiracy theories. But ok…you keep believing that famous people only date and marry each other. Because that’s normal.

  4. Teatimeiscoming says:

    Criticism isn’t always bad, JA. Sometimes it can be constructive. That she reacts like “it pisses me off” about people who criticize just tells me all I need to know about her.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      My brother says, “The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” I think anger or annoyance is a normal response to criticism. You just have to go beyond that and determine whether there’s any value to the criticism. I know some people who can skip the annoyance part, but I also know nice people who don’t react well at first. What bothered me was that she assumes the people criticizing her have ulterior motives – “undermining” her. She doesn’t consider that someone might criticize her constructively, or want the best for her but think she’s wrong. They must be jellie haters. So that was a long-winded way of agreeing with you.

      • perplexed says:

        I can believe people have underestimated her or undermined her, mainly because of the industry she’s in. Until you do something substantial (like win an Oscar like Jennifer Lawrence did), I don’t think most pretty young actresses are taken seriously. I thought that was the angle she was coming from. She’s in an industry where women are treated weirdly a lot of the time.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Well, that’s certainly true.

  5. j.eyre says:

    My gawd but I love that dress on the cover.

  6. kimbers says:

    believe her. Her early career was good but then the slump off…

  7. Carol says:

    I have in the past found her infuriating based on her stupid comments in interviews on looks, race and basically anything else. However, I am recently finding her tolerable as a business woman. I think this is what she was meant to be rather than an actress. She needs to finesse her interview skills some more though – she should stop putting other women down even if she is trying to differentiate herself from other actresses. Just makes her look like an idiot and reduces her credibility as a sound business woman.

  8. Clover says:

    I believe her. I think, incidentally, she had a really difficult childhood because she was basically raised by her grandparents with her parents like siblings to her, because they were so young when they had her.

  9. justagirl says:

    @Kaiser I get her issue with ‘ambitious’ – it often has different connotations for men and women.

    Her example “she’s a very ambitious young lady” almost implies that it’s unusual, it’s rare for a ‘young lady’ to be ambitious. It can have slight sexism too, as in “for such a pretty young thing, she’s very ambitious”. It can be condescending, patronizing, maybe dismissive, that she’s reaching too far. Also, often similar to ‘bossy’.

    Whereas with men, it’s generally a more positive assessment. If there’s snark, it’s usually obvious snark, not hidden, subtle shade like it is for women.

    • perplexed says:

      I thought that statement had a patronizing vibe to it too. I guess calling someone an “ambitious young lady” could be viewed as cute to say about a 15 year old, but it does sound pretty weird to say about anyone over 25.

  10. HoustonGrl says:

    Hmmm, I guess she is a very strong person, especially considering she was very young when she came onto the scene. I don’t think it’s fair to judge starlets who, under extreme pressure, compromise some of their values. They’re so young, they might not even be fully defined yet. Not just that, but let’s face it, this world is very unfair to women. Some do what they feel they have to do.

  11. jferber says:

    Wasn’t Derek Jeter the showmance?

  12. Priya says:

    Has she ever done anything besides bad superhero movies?

    And she’s badmouthing people who have had adverse reactions to her supposed organic line of products.

    She’s been a bully to that mom blogger to and tried to intimidate her into giving up her domain name.

    Alba needs to just stop. She’s done nothing. She’s just a decent looking woman.

  13. Greenieweenie says:

    she should talk about the role Cash Warren played in her wanting to go into business–because he’s in business and I’ve no doubt he was involved in hers, at least at the beginning.