Jessica Alba 'Grew Up in Survival Mode' with No 'Safety Net': I Wanted a 'Better Life Than That'

The Honest Company founder opened up about her childhood and living "paycheck to paycheck" before finding Hollywood success

Jessica Alba is seen as RH Celebrates The Unveiling of RH San Francisco, The Gallery at the Historic Bethlehem Steel Building on March 17, 2022
Jessica Alba. Photo: Kelly Sullivan/Getty

Jessica Alba is opening up about her childhood.

As Glamour UK's cover star for the July/August issue, the The Honest Company founder, 41, got candid about her humble beginnings and what drove her to keep going.

"I grew up in survival mode," she said, noting that her family used to move around a lot because of her father's career in the U.S. Air Force. "It was almost sort of what I was born into."

She added, "My parents didn't have a safety net, they were living paycheck to paycheck. And so the mentality of 'tomorrow's not guaranteed' ... For me, I was like, 'I got to do everything I can to keep my head above water.' "

Growing up like that, expectations for her future were basically nonexistent, she said. "I think because no one had any expectations that I would be successful, how could you fail? I wasn't set up — no one was like, 'Oh my God, you're going to be…' They were just like, 'Here's your life.' "

"I want a better life than that," Alba remembered telling herself, "I don't want to be in survival mode all the time."

Jessica Alba Glamour Cover August 2022
Dennis Leupold

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

At only 11 years old, Alba won an acting competition in Beverly Hills, the outlet reported. "I wanted to be an actress since, forever," she said. "I think I always fantasized about living in someone else's skin and someone else's reality. I think I'm naturally an introvert. So for me, it was a way to fit into the world if I get to be somebody else."

The actress' first feature film was Camp Nowhere when she was only 13 years old. Alba's big break was in 2003's Honey. Among her other credits are Fantastic Four (2005), Sin City (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), Little Fockers (2010) and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014).

Aside from her acting career, the Golden Globe–nominated star founded The Honest Company in 2010, now valued at over $1 billion dollars.

"I approached it the way I approached Hollywood, which was that I just did it," the mother of three said about getting into the industry. "You have to be relentless."

RELATED VIDEO: Jessica Alba Says She Learned to Tune Out Naysayers When Building Her Empire: 'I've Had to Pave My Own Way'

As for how she felt going into the industry, she said, "I don't have a fear of failure. I have the opposite: I have a fear of, 'If I didn't try, [then] what's the point?' "

Talking to PEOPLE last year, Alba said she "absolutely" envisioned how big her company could become someday. "I actually had the biggest vision right away, and then I had to bring it down to earth," she said. "I just knew in my heart that this company should exist. If people knew that they could take their health and wellness into their own hands and make better choices, why wouldn't you?"

Alba added, "I just had a different mentality or a different drive. I've had to pave my own way."

Related Articles