Sitting in her white robe and slippers on set of the Remix cover shoot in downtown Los Angeles, Jessica smiled clutching a thermos of bone broth as I joined her on the glam room couch. We’d spent the last hour or so shooting the actress-turned-entrepreneur, adorned in some of the world’s most coveted luxury pieces fresh off the runway. On camera she had shone, but even up close she looked as beautiful, bright and youthful as she did the first time I watched her on the big screen when she was merely 22 years old in the dance film Honey.
Despite the intense week she was having, Jessica’s energy was calm and her demeanour sweet. The now 42-year-old mother of three had just returned from Paris Fashion Week and attended The Oscars parties with the rest of Hollywood. I wondered, was her life always this busy? “I definitely do not spend most of my days in Paris,” she said, laughing. “I used to go once or twice a year for such a long time, and go to a show and then get to spend a couple of days in Paris or London. Since COVID I haven’t travelled, so it was nice to just be there. It was kind of overwhelming being around people at that level. I don't know if I've adjusted to this 'thing' again, because we've all been so isolated.”
Committed to her work, I had caught her at an unusual time in her schedule. “Usually my day-to-day is going into my office unless I'm working on a show. I wake up, I meditate, work out, shower, take my kids to school and then I go straight into my work day, so if I wasn't here shooting, I'd be in the office and in meetings.” What are the meetings about? “Usually stuff for Honest, but then also entertainment - if I’m producing and developing things I might be meeting with different studio heads, execs, producers and directors. I have something in development at Netflix, so that's exciting!”
She had just wrapped filming on a new show coming out this August which is set to satisfy the home renovator in us all. “It’s called Honest Renovations, where we renovate people's homes who are going through a milestone with their families,” she explained. “On the show we have a couple of first-time parents with babies, and then we have two sets of twins who are teenagers and the kids have just outgrown their spaces and are fighting all the time so we created four rooms instead of three. So we're trying to solve these parenting problems or parenting conundrums with home design and it's really fun!”
Working on a TV show is of course nothing new to the star, hit series Dark Angel is how Jessica’s name first hit global headlines. Turns out her first role would be the hardest she’d do, a baptism by fire kind of scenario for the then 19-year-old. “Dark Angel was the most challenging role I ever had. It was like 86 hours a week, and on the weekends they would fly me to LA to do press and endorsements and magazine covers, it was never ending. And that was an international flight, so I would wrap at 5am or 6am on Saturday morning, and my call time on Monday morning would be 4:30 am so I could be on camera when the sun rose. On Wednesdays, we would have 12pm to 12am, and then we went and shot all night for Thursday and Friday... for 10 and a half months! And it rained nearly every day!” She laughed, recalling the memory. “But it taught me how to be professional and how to show up. Now I realise what a gift I was given to learn that work ethic at such a young age. It set me up!”
This work ethic and commitment paved a pretty pattern throughout her shining career. Dark Angel was already a success but it was in 2003 when she truly captured millennials' attention, dancing her way onto our screens with the iconic flick Honey.
Being a diehard Honey Daniels fan since I was 12, I had to know if she remembered the dance choreography, like I admittedly still did. The answer was no. “But I'm on the board of this charity for my company called Baby2Baby and Laurieann Gibson, who was the choreographer for Honey was there at our Gala recently, and it was so weird! I remember her being on my ass to hit the beat, and to keep up with the timing. I wasn't a dancer so I didn't know what the hell I was doing!” She laughs. I told her I found that hard to believe, after all, her dancing in the film was the reason half my school year took up hip hop lessons. “You can feel impostor syndrome when you're in that situation, and I had to fake it. But all credit it to Laurieann, 100%. She knew what I was good at, and she set me up with a great double,” she explains, laughing.
She had a habit of taking on roles that would become cult-classics within their category. Honey within the dance film realm, and not long after that, Into The Blue, an underwater treasure hunt film that birthed the poster of Jessica many of us had bluetacked to our bedroom walls. Her roles in Never been Kissed and in Fantastic Four (aka the invisible woman) and Sin City also deserve mentions. Which has been her favourite? “I loved all of them at the time.”
It was around 2011 when she pushed pause on movies. Not every young actress has the ability to shift gears from starring in Hollywood hits to running a Forbes-acclaimed business worth over $550 million, yet that’s exactly what she did. For the last 13 years, the mother of three has been capturing the world’s hearts for a very different reason and has proven that fame and success can be very separate entities. Jessica’s natural non-toxic household brand, The Honest Company and beauty branch, Honest Beauty, are now some of the most successful global brands ever launched. Jessica sits on the company’s board and serves as its chief creative officer, where they sell basic necessity items in the modern day, from non-toxic nappies and mascaras, to cleaning products and supplements. She is without a doubt a visionary with the career pivot she made and the accomplishments Honest has had since its birth. “I would say initially I put 90% of myself into the business, and 10% in the entertainment side, but now I really feel like I'm 50/50. It's nice!” Jessica also saw the opportunity for e-commerce back before it really boomed - over 50% of sales are from online while 45% are retail.
So, why Honest? Why non-toxic? The Honest Company does not use ‘health-compromising chemicals or compounds’, including the ‘No List’ of ingredients that it promises to never allow in its products. “I learned about toxic chemicals and how they can affect human health and I felt like I had a platform to do something good. I have always had this belief that there was something bigger than me and that if I was going to be successful, I was meant to help the world in some way. So for me this was a very clear calling, that I can use my platform to not only let people know that they can make better choices, but also give them a great alternative, because frankly, it didn't exist,” she explained.
Although Honest sells dozens of different products under its three main categories, the nappies and baby wipes account for over 60% of total sales, with skin care, personal care, household and wellness generating the remainder of sales. The passion for a non-toxic future comes from a deeper place of desire - this need for change in household products was personal. “All natural things aren't always the best, and all synthetic things we know aren't always the best, and there is a happy medium between the two. My mom got cancer when I was 22 and she had to have a full hysterectomy. I believe it was something in her environment because it wasn't genetic at all. We're choosing to buy these products - we're bringing them into our homes, and people just aren't even aware of the potential risks. So for me, it's like there's a health crisis. How can I tackle it in a way that feels empowering and doesn't feel scary? And also, hopefully influences the industry to do better by people on the planet.”
It’s evident the Golden Globe nominee carries a huge mental load between her business, her charities, her work in the entertainment world, and of course managing her family. What does she do when she needs to wind down and get into a flow state? “Meditate,” she laughs, “Or stay in bed, read, maybe get a massage and my nails done in my room. Get food delivered and take a bath! Self care all the way!”
Taking time for herself is rare, being a doting mum to her three children, Honor, Haven and Hayes. She described becoming a mom as an overwhelming shift in perspective. “I really felt a lot of remorse for how terrible of a teenager I was to my parents, because all of a sudden, I felt the love that parents have for their kids and it really made me understand them better. It also made me think about my legacy and about how at any moment, we could go. Mortality felt really close after having kids. I felt like I wanted to do the most I could with this precious life that we have.”
Mascara: Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara
Candy: Sour licorice
Pair of shoes: High top platform Converse or my Celine lace-up loafers
Everyday bag: My Dior Tote and my Celine Crossbody
Holiday destination: Anywhere hot!
Cocktail: Mezcal Margarita
Date night spot: Sawtelle Street
COVER SHOOT PRODUCED BY REMIX MAGAZINE
PHOTOGRAPHY Nino Munoz
STYLING Kristen Ingersoll
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Steven Fernandez
INTERVIEW & WORDS Amber Baker
HAIR Brittney Ryan
MAKEUP Maria Vargas
NAILS Queenie Nguyen
PHOTO ASSISTANTS Brian Kendall, Gui Cha
PROPS Isaac Russell
STYLIST ASSISTANT Matthias de Gonzales