The actor, now 41, was just 12 years old when she landed her first on-screen role in the 1994 adventure-comedy Camp Nowhere.
From then on, Alba made a name for herself, portraying characters whose beauty and sexuality were at the centre of their identities, in films such as dance-romance Honey (2003) and action noir Sin City – Recut, Extended, Unrated (2005).
Speaking with CNN’s Chris Wallace in a new video interview, the Fantastic Four star addressed Hollywood’s objectification of her as a sex symbol in the early stages of her career.
“I understood that I needed to help sell the product, and they sell it how they do. So I understood it as a business decision and as a strategy,” Alba explained.
“And I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with being and owning your sexuality,” she clarified. “Frankly, at the time, I was definitely not that person. I was very nervous about all of that, and I was quite uncomfortable in my own skin.”
She admitted that “it wasn’t until I became a mom that I really started to even see myself as a woman or a sexual being or someone who owned her power and her femininity”.
Alba has three children, Honor, 14, Haven, 11, and Hayes, five, with her film producer husband Cash Warren.
“At that time, I felt like I was very much having to put up this armour of masculine and masculine energy, so I wouldn’t be preyed on because there were a lot of predators in Hollywood from age 12 until 26 – when I got pregnant with Honor,” she added.
Describing herself as a “warrior” who “cursed like a sailor”, she said: “I think I tried to make myself as unavailable as possible so that I wouldn’t be taken advantage of.”