BOX OFFICE SUPERSTAR
Having just given birth to her second child, Jessica Alba shares her own views on parenting and personal experience with bullying.
Interestingly, despite her international sex symbol status, she’s refreshingly old-fashioned and modest, maintaining a no-nudity clause in all her movies, and uses a body double when necessary.
“I’m a strict mother. And right now Honor is only three years old. She’s free to do a lot of things and at the moment we’re focused on respect and appropriate behaviour in how you talk to people. Manners are really important and that’s what we’re building on.”
Born in California, Alba’s family relocated often due to her father’s career in the airforce. Her mother is of Danish and French Canadian descent and her father is Mexican American which perhaps explains her unusual and exotic features. She’s graced the covers of many international magazines and frequently sits atop the world’s ‘Hot’ lists.
“I’m just not comfortable with nudity or sex scenes, so I don’t do it,” she says.
“Spy Kids is the first time Honor has been able to see a movie I’ve done which is the main reason I did it,” she smiles. Her other movies, which include Sin City, Machete, The Eye, and The Love Guru, are not what you’d consider family fare for the under 10 set.
In Spy Kids 4, Alba plays a frazzled step mother. She stars opposite Joel McHale (The Soup, Community) and Jeremy Piven (Entourage), along with original cast members: Alexa Vega, and Daryl Sabara.
In real life, Alba appears as though she’s handled the juggling act of motherhood and career with relative ease.
“Well, it’s hard. Sometimes it feels impossible but you just have to roll with the punches, especially if you bring your kid to work because you don’t have a sitter or someone to watch them. They’re going to act out, they’re probably going to be cranky and hungry and do all these things when you’re on that important phone call or you’re in that meeting,” she says. “It’s usually at that moment that they’re just going to lose their mind. That’s just kids. It’s funny, and dealing with it is part of being a parent.”
In Spy Kids 4, she says of this modern, multi-tasking woman, she portrays, “I think that’s what’s kind of nice about this movie is that you get to see into what that’s like. She’s not bitter and she’s not a curmudgeon. She’s trying to keep it together, trying to still look cute, and trying to be cool with her step kids. She’s trying to be the best mother she can be and trying to be a good wife.”
The idea that women can ‘do it all,’ certainly puts the pressure on, and a subject Alba is all too familiar with. “To make it as a career woman often means you almost have to overachieve over men a lot of the time, and do it without seeming bitchy. And then, on top of that, you have to be the world’s best mother, the best at planning, the best at cooking,” she laughs. “It’s a little bit nuts,” she says.
Wearing a figure-hugging Elizabeth and James dress, while she doesn’t disclose how long until her second baby arrives, it certainly looks imminent.
“Yes, it is,” is all she will say on the subject of a due date. “I think I'll enjoy the ‘baby time,’ more with this one. I was so excited for every milestone because I was going through it for the first time. At every weigh in, I wanted to know when she’ll start rolling over, when she’ll start teething, when she can have solids, all that was such a big deal. I now realise that those milestones are going to happen, regardless. So, I’m just going to enjoy the baby as long as humanly possible. Once that time has gone, it’s really gone,” she smiles.
A busy lifestyle, Alba also participates and raises money in numerous charities including: AIDS charity Afar, as well as Clothes Off Our Back, Habitat for Humanity, National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, Project HOME, RADD, Revlon run/Walk for Women, SOS Children Villages, Soles4Souls. She also endorsed and supported then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008.
Alba most recently spent time lobbying in support of the Safe Chemicals Act, a revision of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. This has become her latest pet peeve.
“I’m developing my own baby line, Honest Company, for products like pacifiers, diapers and that kind of stuff, all made with materials that won’t be harmful to the baby. Most products are toxic that they have on the market for babies so I created this line because I was frustrated about them all. It’s going to be more eco things that are green but they’ll also be cute and safe. Most importantly, they’ll be non toxic.
“I've been working on it for about two and a half years. It’s going to be completely online. I have the right partners, one of them wrote a book called Healthy Child Healthy World, an expert in the healthy non toxic space.”
Her blackberry sits blinking on the arm rest. She glances at it often. Impressively, she manages to resist checking it until the end of the interview.
Spy Kids is not without its charm, for adults as well, and is easily watchable. And, like most G-rated movies, it has a message.“The movie is about time and taking advantage of every moment you have and not letting it slip by you without you noticing. Especially with your kids, time flies,” she says. “We need to try to slow things down and take time to enjoy family.”