Jessica Alba could be your best friend—if your best friend happened to be the most insanely gorgeous, relentlessly photographed and politically engaged young mom in the world. And this “sexiest movie star” and “most beautiful” woman (as she’s been crowned by virtually every magazine in print) doesn’t mind the attention—or, for that matter, even seem to notice it.
The week before this interview, People magazine named Alba one of the best-dressed celebs of 2010 to much fanfare. Had she seen that? “Um... no,” she giggles. It seems that the very public scrutiny surrounding her clothes, her face and her body is just background noise to Alba. All the press she gets is “just a way to market a movie,” she says simply. In the past few years, young celebrity moms have become the lifeblood of weekly magazines (you can’t live in the Western world and not have seen photos of her running errands with daughter Honor, two), but that doesn’t stop Alba from behaving like any other 29-year-old woman.
On Twitter, she posts everything from the mundane (pictures of herself having dinner with friends or trying out a new nail polish) to the provocative (political opinions about a variety of issues such as women’s rights and immigration). She admits she doesn’t think twice before tweeting personal information to her approximately 700,000 followers. “I just do that because it’s what everyone else does on Twitter,” she says. “It has nothing to do with paparazzi. Paparazzi follow you and take pictures of you and taunt you. For me, Twitter is a social network, and I really communicate with friends through it. That’s just the way people communicate these days.”
ACTING AND ACTIVISM
Alba is equally unconstrained by other people’s opinions when it comes to making career choices, with a résumé full of movies ranging from superhero (Fantastic Four) to rom-com (Valentine’s Day) to graphic action flick (Machete) and, this month, a blockbuster comedy set in Chicago: Little Fockers, the third installment of the Meet the Parents franchise.
“I play a pharmaceutical sales rep, and she’s really into Ben Stiller’s character,” Alba says. “She admires his work as a nurse and what he’s done, and she wants to work with him, and then you realize that she’s a little bit off. She’s really in your face and very aggressive, she has no filter and no sense of boundaries or personal space. She’s pretty much the opposite of me.”
The real Alba is hyper-political (go to husband Cash Warren’s website, ibeatyou.com, to see a very personal video they created at President Obama’s inauguration), passionate about issues like immigration—“We need immigration reform in our country. Everyone’s aware of it. We took so many steps forward with Obama, and we’re taking so many leaps backward by having any person with an accent or a person of color feel like they are lesser, or looked at as criminal,” she says—and very involved in many women’s charities. She names a few of her favorites as CARE, an organization that fights global poverty; Step Up Women’s Network; and 1Goal, for which she is a global ambassador and cochair, and on behalf of which she went to Capitol Hill earlier this year to raise political support for a global fund for education.
BEAUTY AND THE BOD
Within a few minutes of meeting her, it becomes apparent that Alba has a far more complex mind than her millions of fans may guess. That said, while she can hold her own on any topic, she still enjoys chatting about less weighty pursuits. As a Revlon brand ambassador, she has mastered the fast face. “I use an eyelash curler, concealer and a little cream blush, and that’s usually my good-to-go look when I have like, five, minutes,” she says. “My mom used to spend an hour getting ready every morning. You can’t really do that because then you just spend your whole life worrying about that. Just put on sunglasses, or just don’t give a shit,” she laughs.
As for that famous bod: She’s been following a gluten-free diet and has begun taking private yoga lessons at Sol Power Yoga, which her cousin Jessica James founded and operates. “It targets girly areas: lifting your tushie; getting strong legs, but not getting them too bulky; and a tight tummy,” she says. “I’m trying to get into a routine. I haven’t worked out since my daughter was three months old. There’s something called airbrushing, people.”
And about that “best dressed” award—what are her favorite brands? “I like basics from Zara, Topshop, H&M, Gap. I love mixing basics with more fashion stuff. I like vintage YSL, vintage Chanel and vintage Ferragamo. And then big designers—I like Narciso Rodriguez, Alexander Wang, Prada…. It just depends what sort of mood I’m in.”
In a recent tweet, Alba disclosed that a close friend told her she dressed like an old lady. While bodysuits and bikinis are her on-camera trademark, in her real life she tends to wear layers of neutral-colored clothes that cover her body. She recalls their conversation: “We were talking about how the young kids dress, and how they wear all this metallic and fluorescent [clothing] and the L.A.M.B. punk look the kids are doing, and I feel so old saying that,” she says. “But I think there’s a certain age when you’re not allowed to wear fluorescents and foil.” She may indeed be at that age, but if Jessica Alba were so inclined, she could make just about anything work.
Photograph by Mark Liddell at F11 Inc. Management
Styling by Daniel Caudill at The Wall Group
Hair by Robert Ramos for robertramos.com
Makeup by Lauren Andersen at The Wall Group
Manicure by Ashlie Johnson at The Wall Group