One thing that many people tend to forget about Jessica Alba is that she happens to have Mexican heritage. It’s easy to assume she’s also bilingual after learning this but is Spanish really one of the languages she can speak fluently?
No, Jessica Alba can’t speak Spanish. The Fantastic Four star is one of many Latina celebrities who never picked up this language, but she wants to learn and she’s hoping her kids will honor their Mexican roots by doing the same.
Stick around to learn why Jessica Alba never managed to learn Spanish in her youth, and what steps she’s taking to avoid making the same mistake with her children.
Jessica Alba’s Upbringing
Jessica Alba was born to Mexican-American father Mark Alba, and always took deep pride in her Latin roots. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a chance to become fluent in Spanish growing up, and her family never encouraged her to learn the language of her ancestors.
Alba grandfather José stood out as the only Mexican in his school and was behind his classmates because he only started learning English at the age of six. The actress always assumed he never taught his children Spanish so they wouldn’t stand out and feel different the way he did.
“Like many others of their generation, my grandparents didn’t teach their children, including my dad, to speak Spanish. My abuelo says that he didn’t even think about it, but I wonder if he associated it with a difficult transition in his life,” wrote Alba in a PopSugar article titled “I’m Proud of My Diverse Heritage”.
Jessica Alba took a lot of slack for not speaking Spanish over the years, and often felt she was judged more harshly than some other Hollywood stars who also had parents of Latino descent.
“No one gives Cameron Diaz a hard time for not speaking Spanish. Her dad’s Cuban, and I was telling her I feel so bad because everyone is so nasty to me for not speaking Spanish. She’s like, ‘I don’t speak Spanish! I barely speak English!’” Alba told Latina.com.
She also claimed that Spike Lee didn’t feel like she was the right fit for his 2002 drama 25th Hour, because he wanted to hire “a Latin girl who can speak Spanish”. He eventually went on to cast Rosario Dawson, who isn’t fluent either.
Alba admitted that getting shunned for not speaking Spanish made her feel really bad, and she struggled explaining to journalists that she’s a Latina, and that being Mexican is in her blood – whether or not she speaks Spanish.
Learning this, or any other language is still one of the items on her bucket list. Alba wished her dad spoke Spanish to her and her brother in their youth, but he didn’t grow up with it either, and she found studying on her own very difficult because nobody encouraged her to practice.
Jessica Alba failed to learn Spanish in her youth, but it’s still not too late for her kids to do so. Shortly after her daughter Honor was born, the actress hired a Spanish teacher, to make sure her baby girl is learning the language from an early age so she could appreciate her roots.
Unlike Alba, who grew up surrounded by many Mexican relatives, her kids don’t have the same constant proximity to the Latino culture. That’s why it’s so important for her to put an extra effort into teaching them about their rich heritage.
“I want them to learn French like their father and Spanish like their great-grandparents. It’s not just about being an American; I think it’s important to be a global citizen. I’m incredibly proud of my diverse heritage and I want my daughters to feel the same way,” Alba told PopSugar.