Maybe it was the experience as a child star on 1995’s Flipper: The New Adventures that made grown-up actor Jessica Alba turn her attention and money to environmental protection, humanitarian efforts, and even advancing science. Since founding The Honest Company in 2012, Alba may be even more well-known for promoting safe, stylish and non-toxic lifestyle products than for such star turns as the lead in James Cameron’s cult sci-fi series, Dark Angels. How did she move from talking with Flipper to making good as both a humanitarian and an environmentally-protective entrepreneur? Let’s take a look.

The Dark Angel Star Battles Toxic Household Chemicals

Born April 29, 1981, Alba was a child actor with roles in shows and bit roles here and there, such a small part in Never Been Kissed. Unlike most people who succeed in Hollywood at a young age, she also went on to play adult roles like Nancy in Sin City. Her career has spanned more than two decades and included 25 feature films, some tiny, some blockbuster variety (though one of her most recent films, Fantastic Four, was considered mediocre).

A parent of three, in her early 30s Alba co-founded the Honest Company. The idea had been incubating since 2008 when she realized how many toxic chemicals were in laundry detergent used by families of infants and also recalled her own struggles as a child with chronic asthma and allergies. She soon paired up with Healthy Child Healthy World’s Christopher Gavigan, and though the journey wasn’t all sunshine and daisy chains, they made it work. In 2011, Alba had enough consumer products and child safety expertise to lobby Congressional representatives about co-sponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act.  A year later, the Honest Company was on its way after four years of rejections that only an actor like Alba wouldn’t consider a big deal. The core mission: Make the family home environment less toxic.

The entrepreneurs began with safe diapers and diaper wipes and their base of environmentally-friendly lifestyle and home goods grew quickly. Within two years of opening, the company was already valued at $1 billion. And just as important to Alba, she and the company began getting recognized for their environmental and advocacy work, with awards and support coming from parents, activist groups and even publications like Fast Company, which placed her in the top 20 of its 100 Most Creative People In Business list.

Hollywood To Humanitarian

The Honest Company may be the jewel in Alba’s environmental activist’s crown, but she also has played a role in many humanitarian efforts. She’s a powerhouse spokesperson for public health groups like the Healthy Family Coalition, which is determined to protect consumers from toxic chemicals. Alba also actively supports non-profit efforts ranging from The Children’s Defense Fund to VotoLatino. Just a few years into The Honest Company’s growth curve, she and the company donated more than $41,000 to help fight childhood cancer via The MaxLove Project, which emphasizes anticancer nutritional strategies and empowering families coping with cancer.

What’s next for Jessica Alba?

If you’re talking environmental entrepreneurship, Alba’s next step involves growth. The Honest Company announced in March 2019 it would expand into Europe and also kick off Honest Beauty. Alba’s hoping to parlay the national interest in natural skincare into complementary makeup products. “People are into natural skin care, but not as much makeup. But if you use regular makeup on top of natural skin care, you’re ruining everything that you just did,” she told Health magazine.

And if you’re wondering if all this leaves Alba with any time to pursue her acting career, well, yes. In May 2019, she and Gabrielle Union are a quirky detective team on Spectrum Originals’ L.A.’s Finest.