How Jessica Alba's Mexican Heritage Has Inspired Her Approach to Parenting

To be honest, Jessica Alba knows she likely wouldn't helm a billion-dollar brand if it wasn't for the work of those who came before her, telling E! News, "My grandparents sacrificed so much."

By Sarah Grossbart Sep 24, 2023 7:00 AMTags
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While everyone's getting hyped for spooky season by snapping up Halloween costumes and pumpkin-scented everything, Jessica Alba is busy crafting plans for her family's ofrenda.

With Día de Muertos coming up Nov. 1 and 2, "We celebrate everyone who's passed," the actress explained of the tradition in an exclusive interview with E! News' Francesca Amiker. "I also have a wall in my house with all of our family members, our ancestors." 

Among the photos hanging in the Los Angeles-area home she shares with husband Cash Warren, 44, and their kids Honor, 15, Haven, 12, and Hayes, 5: Great-grandfather Daniel Martinez, who had grown frustrated by having to send his darker-skinned children to Mexican schools "while those with light skin and blonde or red hair were allowed to attend schools with white students," Alba outlined in a 2016 PopSugar essay, and decided to open his own East Barrio School for Latinos in Claremont, Calif. 

Jessica Alba Through the Years

Then there's her grandfather José Alba, who practiced traditional Mexican dance and became a classical guitarist and her grandmother Isabel Martinez who deftly earned her GED, helped support the family while her husband was in school and "raised generations of family in their home," shared the 42-year-old. "She's my icon of resourcefulness, determination, and drive. Basically, she's the ultimate boss."


And, yes, if Alba's being, um, honest, she knows she owes a piece of her billion-dollar brand to all the bosses who came before her. 

"I stand on the shoulders of giants who sacrificed so much for me to be here," The Honest Company cofounder, who largely grew up in her grandmother's California home, told E! News. "And it's an honor that I get to be here and live out this reality because my grandparents sacrificed so much for my father and his siblings and then for me to be here." 

It's particularly meaningful when she considers the "wild racism" they had to contend with (as a kid, her grandfather couldn't swim in a public pool without first showing a certificate of vaccination). "So for them to come out head high and pushing through," said Alba, it makes everything that she's been able to accomplish feel that much more poignant.

So, yes, while she'll be enjoying her share of pan dulce cookies this Hispanic Heritage Month (both the conchas and menudo were on the menu at her family's Sunday dinners), "Celebrating our culture and our family is an everyday thing," Alba explained, "because that's who we are. We're always surrounded by our culture and our community and the family and the traditions." 

For the actress, that means never missing a moment to highlight Latinx entrepreneurs and other small businesses (among her faves: La Monarca Bakery, apparel brand Viva La Bonita and Chicago gift shop Colores Mexicanos). It's a mission that led to Honest's recent collaboration with bilingual board book brand Lil' Libros, their sugar skull-adorned diapers just one of many offerings on display at BabyList's new experiential shopping space in L.A. 

"I would say the ethics and values I embedded in Honest—that family being there for people no matter what, especially when they're down—that's very Mexican or how I grew up Mexican," Alba explained, adding she's "very proud" to have grown her brand in that vision.

That mindset is also something she's working to instill in her children, Alba sharing how she's impressed upon them, "You always help out your neighbor, you always try and put yourself in their shoes." 

And she never misses an opportunity to remind her crew of the hard work that went into affording their fancy kicks. 

"I have been fortunate enough that I've been able to actually bring a kid along on business trips," Alba explained. "I actually like my kids to see me working and I want them to see what it's like." And while that might mean, say, a trip to Paris filled with top-notch room service, sightseeing and watching the French Open, she noted, "sometimes they'll sit in the corner and I'm doing a boring meeting."

The goal, she continued, is "getting them outside of that everyday routine and having them see your life isn't free. There's a cost. There's things that we have to do as parents in order for you to have what you have." 

Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Because Alba was brought up in the same neighborhood where her great-grandfather opened a school that proudly taught Mexican history—both an hour east and a world away from where she and Warren are raising their brood.  

"I didn't grow up with this," she acknowledged, referencing the red carpet events, vacations and Beyoncé concerts her kids get to enjoy. "I had to create this for myself and my husband had to create this for himself. And I think it's good for your kids to connect with what that means. Because our kids are living a very different life than how we grew up." 

Thankfully, the rich history remains.