By Karen Mizoguchi
November 02, 2018 03:57 PM

Jessica Alba knows firsthand what it takes to be successful.

In the latest issue of Parents magazine, the actress and co-founder of The Honest Company reflects on her humble upbringing and how the lessons she learned as a child influence the parenting of her three kids — daughters Haven Garner, 7, and Honor Marie, 10, as well as 10-month-old son Hayes Alba — with husband Cash Warren.

“All the odds were stacked against me. I’m a girl from a blue-collar family. My parents were teens when they had me. I had no silver spoon in my mouth,” Alba says.

“But I still found a way to be successful in a business that wasn’t open-armed to a Mexican girl,” she adds. “So, my whole life I’ve always just wanted to pay it forward.”

Jessica Alba and son Hayes
Mei Tao
Jessica Alba
Mei Tao

The mother of three works hard on her acting career and entrepreneurship in order to set an example for her children, especially the oldest, Honor.

“I can’t be at every school drop-off and pickup, but I’m showing her my time is valuable and that she has value to me,” Alba says. “I also want her to see that my work is important and that I’m trying my best to make a difference, and maybe she’ll absorb it.”

Jessica Alba
Mei Tao

Amid her and Warren’s busy schedules, the couple makes sure their three kids know the value of hard work. “If my kids complain when Cash and I go to work, I say, ‘Do you like your life? Because it’s not free. Your dad and I work hard so you can have everything you have. That’s why you take care of your stuff,’ ” Alba explains.

” ‘And guess what? If you don’t work hard, your life won’t always be like this,’ ” adds the Dark Angel alum. ” ‘You’ve got to figure out what you want to do. Go to school, do well, treat others well.’ I’m hardcore about that.”

The star’s beliefs and morals also translate into her latest acting role in the Bad Boys spin-off L.A.’s Finest, which marks Alba’s return to the small screen.

“I’m getting back to acting because it’s my first love and part of my identity. Hollywood is different now from when I semi-retired 10 years ago. There’s a new awareness of how important it is for women to be paid well and represented in front of and behind the camera,” Alba says.

“The #MeToo movement, for all the heartache and trauma it has churned up, enlightened people. For L.A.’s Finest, I didn’t even think about what a man would be paid. I said, ‘This is what I’m worth.’ Gab and I know our value, and we’re lucky to be comfortable enough that we could have walked away if we’d had to.”

Jessica Alba and her kids cover Parents magazine
Mei Tao

And Alba is not the one in her family with those same core values.

“I’ve been a feminist my whole life because I’ve always believed in equality. My husband and kids believe in it too,” she says.

“It’s so basic,” adds the star. “Be kind. Be fair. And stand up for anyone who is not being treated with fairness or kindness. It’s not complicated.”