I ask her how she made the transition from actor to business mogul and her response is characteristically frank: “I approached it the way I approached Hollywood, which was that I just did it.”
To understand Jessica’s incredible drive for success, you have to go back to her childhood and not just her battles with ill health.
Born in Pomona, California on the outskirts of Los Angeles to deeply religious Catholic parents Catherine and Mark (who is of Mexican descent), Jessica Marie and her younger brother Joshua moved around a lot as children, due to her father’s career in the US Air Force.
“I grew up in survival mode,” she tells me. “It was almost sort of what I was born into. My parents didn’t have a safety net, they were living paycheck to paycheck. And so the mentality of ‘tomorrow’s not guaranteed’… For me, I was like, ‘I got to do everything I can to keep my head above water.’”
She adds, “I think because no one had any expectations that I would be successful, how could you fail? I wasn’t set up – no one was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re going to be…’ They were just like, ‘Here’s your life.’ And I was like, ‘This is some bullshit. I want a better life than that. I don’t want to be in survival mode all the time.’”
Jessica started acting at the age of 11, after winning an acting competition in Beverly Hills. “I wanted to be an actress since, forever. I think I always fantasised about living in someone else’s skin and someone else’s reality,” she reveals. “I think I’m naturally an introvert. So for me, it was a way to fit into the world if I get to be somebody else.”
She was then signed by an agent and landed her first small role in feature film Camp Nowhere when she was 13. By 19, she had a recurring role on James Cameron’s hit TV show Dark Angel, which garnered her a Golden Globe nomination in 2001. Her breakthrough on the big screen was 2003’s cult hit Honey, in which she played an aspiring dance teacher, paving the way for roles in films such as Marvel’s Fantastic Four (2005), Sin City (2005), Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (2007), Little Fockers (2010) and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014).
It was on set of Fantastic Four in Vancouver in 2004 that a then 23-year-old Jessica met her future husband, producer Cash Warren, now father to their three children, Honor, 14, Haven, 10, and Hayes, 4. Jessica confirms that when they first met, he slipped her a note, signed with a dollar sign (Cash!) that said, ‘I really, really like you.’ “True story, he did!” she says laughing.
The couple went on to marry in 2008, when Jessica was heavily pregnant with Honor.
“We eloped and I think I was nine months pregnant!” she recalls with more laughter. “It wasn’t planned. It was literally, ‘Honey, do you have anything to do this morning?’ And he was like, ‘No.’ So I said, ‘Should we go to the courthouse and get married?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah.’ And then I said, ‘Can we get waffles afterwards because I have a doctor’s appointment? Will you come to my doctor’s appointment?’ And that’s how it happened!”