JESSICA ALBA may be a gorgeous movie star now but she claims to have been a “dork” when she was a teen.
Luckily, she always had her mum for support.
Jess, 29, has a two-year-old daughter, Honor Marie, with her husband, movie producer Cash Warren. Her next movie is Machete, out on November 26.
Here she reveals how her mum taught her self-respect.
MY mom, Cathy, always taught me that I could talk to her about anything.
She had me at 19 so our age difference is not big, which helps.
She has kept me on the straight and narrow with a moral code.
The moment I said I wanted to be an actress, aged 12, she insisted I start acting classes and get an agent.
My first big job was Flipper, a TV show. I did 44 episodes and lived in Australia for two years with mom.
I made a lot of mistakes, which no one really got to see. I also think that being together meant we formed a bond which is still strong today.
She always kept me away from seeing the harsh side of life.
So it was quite a shock when, at 16, I left home for the first time for six weeks to attend acting school in New York.
It freaked me out at first. I did not make friends, I was on my own and the youngest there.
Some of the older ones were patronising, kind of patting me on my head. My mom had told me I had to prove myself as a young person and that kept me going.
I also had the worst luck with guys. Everyone said that I was young, would meet the right person and would know what I wanted later in life. The wrong guys always came forward. The ones who wanted to hang out for a week and see how far they were going to get with me. Then when they realised they were not going to get very far at all, they did not want to talk to me any more.
This was the way it was in Los Angeles. If you didn’t have sex in the first two days you were nothing – frigid or lesbian.
I did not have time for a relationship for that reason and my mom had taught me well.
So the kinds of guys I ended up with were nutty and not all there. Either that, or they were complete airhead jerks.
I was the dork and didn’t have the right clothes or the cool boys. I did not meet anyone I could be friends with and talk to.
That changed over the years. When you start to appear in films the people you work with become your family. You get to see the human side of everyone because you are together and there is nowhere else to go but the film set or hotel.
When I would go home, I would have my mom and dad and a huge family – aunts, uncles and cousins. They all live in the same area, one hour from each other, in Southern California.
So I was taught, from very early on, to appreciate my own family like no other.
My father, Mark, is Mexican-American but grew up in the 1960s when his Mexican background was covered up. He didn’t even speak Spanish at home.
How things have changed – a Hispanic background is now accepted and celebrated.
My mom is a mixture of Danish, French and Canadian. She is very fair with orange freckles, blonde hair and very white skin.
When I filmed Sin City for director Robert Rodriguez he decided that my character should be blonde, so I dyed my hair for the first time.
My brother said: “You are just going to be like one of those Mexican girls who are trying to be white.” I said: “Josh! How can you say that?” It was such a brother thing to say.
But men reacted differently, particularly older men. If I went in to the Beverly Hills Hotel or Four Seasons they were all these princes and much older men.
They wanted to buy me a drink. I thought to myself: “Oh, God, it is the blonde hair.”
I rarely bought my own drink for a time.
That’s as far as it went. I have my mom’s morals – both self-respect and respect for others.
I hope I can do the same with my own child.