Creative Family Series | Jessica Alba
I don’t think today’s interview needs much of an introduction. All I have to do is say her name and you’ll know her instantly: Jessica Alba!
I know, right?! She’s here. Today. On Classic Play! Ahh!
The actor, founder of The Honest Company, wife and mother of two was named Fast Company Magazine’s 100 most creative people in business. So yeah, she’s got the creative thing down solid.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jessica and ask her a few questions about creativity and parenting. People, I’m just going to come out and say it: she is as charming and genuine as she appears.
Did you grow up in a creative household? If so, what were some of the ways your parents nurtured that?
I did. Everyone in my family that I grew up with, weirdly not my parents, were creative. I lived with my grandparents off and on growing up and was also surrounded by my extended family who were all artists—everything from musicians to sculptors and painters. My grandmother can sketch anything and it’s amazing. Everyone sings and everyone can pick up an instrument and play it. And they all did theater—that’s how my grandparents met actually.
Your grandparents met doing theater?!
Yeah, when they were like children—they were 13 and 16. My grandfather was playing guitar and singing and my grandmother was dancing and singing.
That’s really sweet.
Yeah, we’ve always had very creative family. It’s weird that I chose to be an actor on film. I think it’s because I never felt like I had a voice in the family. Everyone’s so over the top and so creative they all wanted to be heard. I think I became an actor on television because it was the opposite of what everyone else did. I had to find my own voice.
I guess they were always encouraging, a “You can do what you want to do!” kind of thing?
Yes, they never really put any boundaries or limitations on what was possible. Although, my father and his family is more traditional. They’re really into sports. I think my dad always wanted a boy so I played sports. But I always played with the boys, so I was always pushing those gender boundaries and challenging them.
I think it was difficult for my family to adjust to my mentality because I believed women could do anything men can do, if not better. I think it was hard for them dealing with it when I was younger, but now they appreciate that.
How do you nurture creativity in your home?
Everything from how I put together my house to day-to-day stuff with my daughter. I pick up a recipe book and say, “pick out something you’d want to make with Mom.” She’s four and a half. She makes a mess. There’s definitely egg shells in the eggs. She always wants to make a recipe with eggs, of course.
She’s super into eggs because she wants to crack them! We’ll do things like that and put our own twist on the recipe. I’ll turn her art work into another piece of art that we can hang in her room. We make a lot of things—we make jewelry, we pick up shells and feathers. She loves leaves. And then we take the things we find and make things out of them. So she’ll hand me thirty leaves and I say, “Okay, let’s do something with this!” (laughs)
We have a wall in her playroom where we stick her things up. We have another one in the kitchen. I’ve actually got this clothesline and I clip up her artwork.
What do you do to nurture your own creativity as a woman? I mean you’re an actor, a business woman, you have a lot on your plate.
Acting is the thing that fosters my creativity. I think playing characters that are so different than me is the most fun. And really going for it completely. What music does that person listen to? Who were her best friends? How did she grow up? It helps me approach it from a different perspective, otherwise I’d just play it as a mom and that’s never going to work. Right now I’m playing a dancer who’s sad, alcoholic, depressed, a bit of drug addict and here I’m responsible mom of two. I can’t approach it from my life, so I just try to have no judgments and approach it with openness.
Okay, so there’s a few things I want to say about this interview. First, how cool is Jessica Alba? Second, how cute do her grandparents sound?
I love that Jessica has created a home celebrating her children’s art and interests. Home is where our children should always feel safe to be who they are.
And finally, I’m struck by the tremendous amount of empathy she has and that she turned that empathy into The Honest Company—a company dedicating itself to helping all of us the next generation in a non-toxic environment. It’s especially great for families like mine where there’s asthma and allergies. You can check out their entire line here.