Jessica Alba's taken on famed roles in movies like Sin City and Honey, and started the successful brand The Honest Company.
Now she's adding home improvement TV to her list of accomplishments with the release of Honest Renovations (premiering Aug. 18 on The Roku Channel), alongside her friend and fellow actor/model Lizzy Mathis.
"During COVID we created a content production studio, ... I launched a YouTube channel and was really wanting to explore that audience, and that longer form content," Alba told Yahoo Canada about the development of the show in an interview in Toronto.
"Lizzy has been also doing a ton of cooking videos and things, and I was like, what if we collaborate and just figure out what we could create together."
"We ended up renovating our office space and a couple of different spaces in my parents' house. And so out of that really was where the idea came from. ... I've been really passionate about home design since I was small. I think it's because I was a military brat and then lived in my grandparents' house, and then I've been working since I was 12. So even just one room reflecting me and feeling like, 'this is my space,' has been important to me."
"From a modelling perspective, I travelled so much around the world and seeing so many different cultures, ... so my perspective on design always came from how people operate," Mathis added. "How do different parts of the world kind of coexist and how do they live, ... and really an appreciation from that perspective."
"I've always loved food and the kitchen, and all things like that. So for me, it was a little bit more of like, hey how can we work together, create some fun stuff. Bring in all the experience that we both have into a project that we both can really stand behind and enjoy doing. This was the brainchild of that."
It's fitting that Alba and Mathis travelled to Canada to promote Honest Renovations. Alba's spent a significant amount of time in Canada: She filmed the movie Honey in Toronto and met her husband, Cash Warren, on the Canadian set of the film Fantastic Four. Mathis is from Detroit, just a short hop away from the Canadian border.
"It feels like home," Alba said about being in Canada. "I love coming here, in [Toronto] in particular."
"I have to say, of all the cities that I've been to in Canada, I can't think of one that isn't beautiful."
'We wanted to create something that was more authentic'
For Honest Renovations, it's creating a real sense of home that's crucial to every project.
Alba and Mathis meet families who need both organization from the chaos of a family home, and spaces every member of the family can really call their own. But Alba and Mathis take things beyond just home renovation, they also share their own parenting tips, cooking advice, and life lessons from their own personal experiences with these families.
On Season 1 of the show, the families range from two-parent homes with very young children, to a single mom household with older children and a grandkid.
While Honest Renovations is joining the wide range of home renovation programming out there, it's the personal touches and camaraderie that Alba and Mathis bring to the show that makes this series stand out.
"I think if we're authentically going to be executive producers, and we created the show and how we shape it, it has to represent our true selves," Alba said. "So you see a lot of our dynamic come through, like when we just bicker or when we are silly with each other, or even just the design process."
"We wanted it to feel as real as possible and we wanted our real dynamic to come through. That includes us bringing in our family members in the design process. ... I think that personal element is what sets it apart."
"We have our hand in every part of the process, from casting the families all the way to the final reveal day," Mathis stressed. "So when you're spending that much time on a project, it's natural for us to want to incorporate the people that we care about."
In the first episode alone, Alba and Mathis bicker about how to best put up wallpaper, and the pair don't shy away from showing that they're not professional contractors themselves, and they're learning too.
"I think a lot of unscripted or reality shows, they are kind of scripted and they set it up so much, and it's so kind of fake," Alba said.
"They put in these scenarios that create drama and everybody's so over the top and I think that's fine, there's a space for that. ... Or it's really kind of cookie-cutter and you don't feel the soul, ... which is a lot of the renovation shows."
"I think we wanted to create something that was more authentic," Mathis added. "When you see the bickering, you see us really bickering. But I think the beauty in it is that we do bicker and we're very real and honest with each other, but we also make up and we also love each other. You see the full circle of it."
Biggest tip for family home renovation
For anyone watching Honest Renovations and seeing parallels with their own life, hoping to start their own journey to renovating their space, Alba and Mathis stressed that anyone can start with just one step to make their home more comfortable, organized and personal.
"For everyone, I really hope that they take away from the show that they don't have to do every single thing, but that small little changes make a huge difference," Mathis said. "Whether it's putting up wallpaper, painting, whether it's creating more organization, whether it is putting on new handles and hardware throughout your home."
"Start there. Don't get overwhelmed by the process because it can get bigger than what it really is."
We already know that Season 2 of Honest Renovations will be coming our way. Thinking about the next iteration of this journey, Alba and Mathis already have some ideas on how to push the series forward.
"I think we're going to be more efficient with our time," Alba said. "We think we know where we can make the biggest impacts and where to flex. So I think that's going to be exciting to do."
"I think we're all so excited to try out ideas that we didn't have a chance to try out in Season 1," Mathis added. "We literally send each other stuff all day, between all the social platforms, and I think it's just inspiration, constantly."