Jessica Alba interview: From Hollywood superwoman to household product CEO

How Jessica Alba cleaned up

“I can’t tell you how great it is to get away with a girlfriend for four days shopping in Paris. Now that’s what I call a vacation,” laughs married mum-of-two Jessica Alba, who recently sat front and centre at H&M’s show at Paris Fashion week.

You might not guess it but Alba, 32, is probably one of the busiest women in Hollywood today, which is why her recent kid-free trip felt like such a delicious indulgence.

Noticeably absent from the screen for the past year, she returns as the voice of an extra-terrestrial villain in animated kids' movie Escape From Planet Earth. And with a further six films lined up during the course of the year, it's not even movie-making that preoccupies this glamorous mum but more her role as boss of a burgeoning business empire employing 100 staff.

She has also blossomed as an advocate for a number of issues including gay rights and global education and, when we speak, she's just putting the finishing lines on a speech she will deliver in New York to fellow female CEOs. Then its back on the plane to Los Angeles to catch up with her family and check into her office at the Santa Monica HQ of The Honest Company, which she launched two years ago.

"We do detergents, household cleaning products, personal care products, diapers and wipes; all non-toxic and hypo-allergenic," says Alba, who herself suffered from childhood asthma.

"It's a game-changer in the family product business. I'm the president and founder and it's grown quicker than we ever imagined. I'm really proud of it. I spend more time at my office now than on the movie set," explains the actress who famously embarked on her enterprise after her eldest daughter, Honor, almost ate her diaper.

She sees no reason why she can't have it all and, thus far, seems to have pulled off a perfect balancing act, returning to the screen in romantic comedy How to Make Love Like an Englishman with Pierce Brosnan, period drama Dear Eleanor and comedies Stretch and Barely Lethal.

Reprising her role as dancer Nancy Callahan in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For , the sequel to Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller's hard-boiled 2005 cult classic is perhaps her most hotly anticipated role. Rodriguez has been instrumental throughout Alba's career, first auditioning her when she was 17 and going on to cast her not only in Sin City but Machete Kills and Spy Kids: All The Time in the World in 4D.

The daughter of an Air Force father and homemaker mother, she was 11 years old when she won an acting competition and was signed by an agent, winning a handful of commercials and TV roles. At 21, she starred as a genetically-engineered soldier on James Cameron's short-lived TV series Dark Angel, which led to her breakout role in Honey, her sexy dance moves sealing her reputation as both sex symbol and action star, then cast in superhero franchise Fantastic Four.

Making her animated film debut today with Escape From Planet Earth alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, its something of an understatement when she says: "I never get to do movies that my kids can see. This is really the first one."

The film, she says, has prompted much discussion at home over the existence of life on other planets. "I think it would be weird to say that we know for sure that's there's absolutely none on any other universe. But I'm not sitting here waiting to be abducted by aliens any day soon."

Animation, she insists, is liberating and she views her scheming character in Escape From Planet Earth as less villain and more a strong female. "Especially in entertainment geared toward young people, the women are much stronger than they used to be. There's not really the damsel in distress anymore. I think the stereotype still possibly lives in different genre pictures but, in entertainment for the younger generation, they're used to women being equal and being strong. I think if you don't portray that, it would be kind of weird."

Despite her many provocative scantily clad roles, her no-nudity clause affords her the protection of body doubles and digital trickery.

That being said, she draws the line at her children checking out the rest of her catalogue. "A lot of my films are rated 'R' so there's no way my children will be watching them, not for a very long time. It's not appropriate," says the actress who confesses how, at five years old, she would sneak downstairs and hide behind the couch while her parents watched horror movies like Friday the 13th and Pet Sematary. "I felt like I didn't sleep for my entire childhood. I was freaked out."

Seven months pregnant when she wed businessman Cash Warren, 35, six years ago, the couple are now parents to daughters Honor, almost six, and Haven, almost three years old.

"It couldn't have worked out better actually," she says. "I used to work, basically, 11-and-a-half-months-a-year on location. And now I have an office job."

Not that she's about to quit the film industry. "But I am a lot pickier. Some of my roles only involve three or four days shooting although I'm just gearing up to begin a horror movie, The Veil, which will take a month but its all in California so my kids can come and see me at lunch and I get to see them on my days off.

"Hollywood is a weirdly child-friendly environment because you can bring your kids to the set and they hang out in your trailer whereas a normal business environment is more difficult so I created a kid-friendly zone at my own company with a playground area and nursing room. When you're working at a start-up you spend a lot of time at work - often more time at work than with your family."

Alba is last to claim credit for doing it all by herself. "My sister-in-law's little sister helps us with the kids, and my mom and dad and Cash's family all live nearby and they really help out."

Still boasting one of the sexiest bodies in the business, she shares her current fitness secret: "I'm doing hot power yoga. Its a really fast-paced yoga class with weights to hip-hop music in a steam room. I also take dance classes but if I do any kind of running I use a treadmill because I have bad knees."

'Escape from Planet Earth' is out now

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week