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Jessica Alba reveals what drew her back to acting after decade-long hiatus

The Honest Company founder prioritized her family and business over Hollywood — until the right role came along.
/ Source: TODAY

A lot has changed in Hollywood since Jessica Alba took a break from acting back in 2008 following the birth of her first child, Honor Marie. What hasn’t changed, though, is the actress’s can-do attitude and determination to help further representation on both the big and small screens.

Alba, 38, sat down with host Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" Friday night to chat about her new show, "L.A's Finest," which she stars in opposite fellow mom Gabrielle Union, and revealed why it was an opportunity she just couldn’t pass up.

“Jerry Bruckheimer called and Gabrielle Union called ... and I was like, ‘I’ll take that call, of course’ ... and they sent a script,” the mom of three and entrepreneur said. “And you know, I’ve always wanted to be an action hero … I wanted to be Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard,’ I didn’t want to be the girl getting saved. I wanted to be the one doing the action and the comedy and all of that, and this is the first time I’ve ever read a (script with) two women of color starring in an action genre. It’s really cool.”

Prior to her return to set, Alba had taken on a number of small roles over the past decade, but no bigger projects since her turn in the 2010 action and thriller film, "Machete." She first rose to fame in the early 2000s, as Max Guevera in the TV series "Dark Angel."

Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba, Haven Warren, Honor Warren Cash Warren, and Hayes Warren at the Baby2Baby Holiday Party on December 16, 2018 in Los Angeles.Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Baby2Baby

With three young kids — Honor, 10, Haven, 7, and Hayes, 1 — Alba wanted to put her family first.

Which made it a further selling point for Alba that Union, 46, is also a mom, and understood the demands of juggling both one's personal and professional lives. As a result, the pair, who co-executive produce the series, partnered up to make the "L.A's Finest" set a family-friendly one.

“I set up my trailer so there’s a whole baby situation and then Gab had her baby and set her trailer up,” Alba said. “And it’s not just us. Even the crew — we had a teacher’s strike, and some of the crew just didn’t have child care, and we didn’t even bat an eye when they were bringing their children to set.”

“And in Hollywood, that’s just unheard of,” she continued, adding with a proud smile, “But when two women are executive producing ... you know, it's a family-friendly show.”

In an interview with TODAY hosts Jenna Bush Hager and Savannah Guthrie this week, both Alba and Union spoke about the importance of promoting characters who are complex and who lead full, complicated lives — just as they both do.

“We both are really happy to play characters that you’ve never really seen: two women of color, starring in an action genre where we get to do all the action,” Alba said. “And we get to crack jokes. But then we also get to have an emotional center. We’re not trying to be masculine; we’re very feminine … I think it’s nice to see women who are complicated, not perfect — we don’t always agree, but we are ride or die and we have each other’s backs.”