Jessica Alba Was Told She Wasn't 'Caucasian Enough' To Be A Leading Lady

“They couldn’t figure out my ethnicity."

It’s been nearly two decades since Jessica Alba’s breakthrough role in James Cameron’s series “Dark Angel,” but landing a lead on television was no easy task.

The star recently sat down for PopSugar’s “Pretty Unfiltered” series to discuss her Latina heritage, her company The Honest Company and her experiences in the entertainment industry. In the video, Alba described how the industry tried to box her in.

“They couldn’t figure out my ethnicity,” Alba, whose father is of Mexican descent, told the website. “They were like, ‘You’re not Latin enough to play a Latina, and you’re not Caucasian enough to play the leading lady, so you’re going to be the ‘exotic’ one.’ Whatever that was.”

Alba said that while she struggled with being defined in any specific way when it came to roles, it motivated her to succeed in front of the camera.

“That was kind of a weird thing to wrestle with because I never had to look at myself that way or had to stick myself in a bucket,” she told Popsugar. “Then I was even more determined to become a leading lady to show that: Girls can look like me and we can be leading ladies.”

The actress turned entrepreneur also addressed being offered roles as just “the girl” during her career in a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post. Alba said one solution was for women in the industry to choose not to play those roles.

“You know, maybe you get paid more money to play the ‘hot girl’ that really doesn’t have anything to do, but it’s not going to be a role that’s going to make a difference in the perception of women’s roles in movies,” Alba told HuffPost. “So maybe do that gritty independent [film] that you may have to produce and put together, but you get to play a lead and you get to play a dominant, complicated, multi-dimensional character.”