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Who's Talking to Chris Wallace

Interview With Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI); Jessica Alba Talks To Chris Wallace. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 12, 2023 - 19:00   ET



CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: So I'll just say I won't give you any names. But it's going to be fun to watch.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: All right. Well, coming over to copy off of your brackets, Christine.

Christine Brennan, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

All right. That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. Thank you for joining me this evening. I'll see you again next weekend. "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" is up next. Have a good night.


My guest tonight are rising stars in the worlds of business and politics. Starting with Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Fresh off a double-digit reelection victory, she talks about gun control, abortion rights, and fears for her own safety.


WALLACE: You say you think about it all the time. You didn't, it's not I thought about it all the time, you still think about it all the time?


WALLACE: And later, actress turned business mogul, Jessica Alba, reveals how she protected herself from the dark side of Hollywood.


JESSICA ALBA, ACTRESS: I felt like I was very much having to put up this armor. So I wouldn't, you know, be preyed on.

WALLACE: We have two things in common.

HUGH JACKMAN, ACTOR: Do I get a hint?

INA GARTEN, CHEF AND AUTHOR: I find cooking really hard. I find it really stressful.

WALLACE: Do you feel your life is in danger?

TYLER PERRY, ACTOR: And the love of my mother is what brought me here.

WALLACE: What was the worst investment?

MARK CUBAN, BILLIONAIRE ENTREPRENEUR: There is a long list of really bad ones.



GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: Honk if you're ready for change.

WALLACE (voice-over): Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is a rising star in the Democratic Party.

WHITMER: All right, I'm so happy to be here to drink. Are you ready?

WALLACE: Who's gone from campaigning on fixing potholes.

WHITMER: We are moving dirt and fixing the damn roads.

WALLACE: To tackling gun control after a deadly shooting at Michigan State University.

WHITMER: The time for only thoughts and prayers is over.

WALLACE: Her first term was dominated by COVID lockdowns.

WHITMER: I am listening to our best medical minds.

WALLACE: And a foiled plot to kidnap her. Now after a sweeping reelection, Whitmer has a new agenda.

WHITMER: Let's get it done.

WALLACE: Facing heated opposition.

WHITMER: We are Michiganders and nothing is going to get in our way.

WALLACE: As questions persist about a possible presidential run.


WALLACE: Governor Whitmer, welcome. We are here on the campus of the University of Michigan, and thank you so much for talking with us.

WHITMER: Thank you. I'm glad to be with you.

WALLACE: So let's start with your nickname. Back in the spring of 2020, when you would impose your COVID lockdown, you took a lot of heat including from President Trump, and a Detroit rapper wrote a song about you. Here is a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GMACCASH, DETROIT RAPPER: (Singing) If you want to leave the state, you can stay gone. But right now Big Gretch says stay home. All that protests, it was irrelevant. Big Gretch aren't trying to hear you all, or the president. How we going to take orders from a nonresident talking about it's safe but he ain't coming with the evidence.


WALLACE: That nickname, Big Gretch, has stuck. What do you think of it?

WHITMER: I think it's hilarious. And let me tell you why. So I'm named after both of my grandmothers. Gretchen Esther Whitmer and Grandma Gretchen always said don't ever let anyone shorten your name. It's Gretchen. And so I've always had this aversion to anyone calling me Gretch. And I don't know any women who love big in front of their name anyway. And so this combination just absolutely cracks up my family and friends who've known me forever because they're like, I can't believe you're letting people call you this.

I love it. I appreciate it. GmacCash wrote that song at a time where I was taking so much heat and it was a show of support and affection. And so I love it. When people come a Big Gretch, I always get a big smile on my face because I just -- I'm grateful that in a really hard time a community gave me some encouragement when I needed it and so that's what it means to me now.

WALLACE: I mean, what I think it's really saying is no BS approach. Big Gretch. Don't mess with her. And it's been part of your political persona for a long time. In fact, here is what I think is the most significant or best-known part of your platform ever since you began running for governor and then winning and being elected governor in 2018.


WHITMER: As governor I want to focus on the things that will actually make a difference in people's lives right now. Like fixing the damn roads.

No, that it's this administration fixing the damn roads.

Let's keep working to fix the damn roads.

Throughout my second term, we will continue finding ways to keep fixing the damn roads.


WALLACE: Why do you think that that line, fix the damn roads, struck such a nerve with voters?


WHITMER: You know, I think when you're driving down the street, and you see a pothole, it's a vivid reminder of government that's not getting the job done. And it is -- when I travel across Michigan, I went to all 83 counties, in the most rural parts of the upper peninsula, I would hear from people, the same as when I'm in Detroit, I just want you to fix the damn roads. But there was a story that came up during all those travels and all those miles.

I was at the Detroit Children's Hospital, and I was talking to a mom, whose son was in the hospital. Well, she was driving from Flint to Detroit every day to see her son. And she had three other boys, who were at home. And she hit a pothole and it sidelined her for a whole day. It took a lot of money out of rent and childcare. And so it was that story I think that for me crystallized the roads are a lot more than just roads.

It's about whether or not you can put food on the table and take care of your family and get to see your son who's in the hospital. And so I think, as a working woman, I don't have time for BS. I just want to get things done and I call balls when I see them.

WALLACE: Perhaps the biggest issue you face right now is guns especially after that man roamed the campus at Michigan State University, killed three people, wounded five. Here is what you said immediately after the rampage.


WHITMER: We shouldn't have to live like this. We shouldn't have to subconsciously scan for exits whenever we enter a building or a room. The time for only thoughts and prayers is over. We are in a unique position to take action and save lives. And that's exactly what we are going to do in the weeks ahead.


WALLACE: Here is the package that legislators are currently considering. Secure storage of firearms and ammunition, universal background checks, and a red flag law.

But, Governor, it's not clear that any of those measures would have stopped that man from getting those guns and killing those people.

WHITMER: So, Chris, you know, in this country, the biggest, you know, cause of death for kids in this country and only in this country is guns. We are losing lives every single day to gun violence. We have a duty to pursue measures that will mitigate that. Are we going to get rid of all the guns in America? No. But can we take some commonsense actions to protect people?

WALLACE: Why not go for something tougher? Regulation of automatic weapons or large capacity magazines, repeal the open carry law, which is legal here in Michigan right now.

WHITMER: I think, you know, we've had historic election in the state. The first time in 40 years, Democrats control all the branches of government. It's only happened four times in 130 years in this state. I think it's important for us to deliver on the things we ran on and then explore what is the next step. WALLACE: Let's pick up on that because you did win a sweeping victory

for reelection in November beating a MAGA opponent by more than 10 points. You've made an interesting pledge in your State of the State speech in January. Let's take a look.


WHITMER: Our message is simple. We will fight for your freedom. And you know what? Let's go on offense. I'll go to any state that restricts people's freedoms and win business and hard-working people from that. I'm looking at you, Ohio and Indiana.


WALLACE: What does that mean, Governor?

WHITMER: Well, it means if you are a person who values individual liberties, wants to make your own decisions about your body and your family, Michigan is a great place for you to find a future. I remember, it was striking when Indiana decided to eviscerate women's ability to make their own decisions and get access to reproductive healthcare. And I remember seeing Eli Lilly making some sort of a statement that they weren't going to continue to grow their investment in Indiana.

And it struck me as maybe there's an opportunity for us here. Companies are looking for talent. Young people expect civil rights protections. They expect equitable opportunity. They expect to be able to make their own decisions about their bodies. So maybe this is an opportunity for us. Tell the story of what a life could look like in Michigan for this young talent that maybe doesn't look at their home states now as places that are welcoming or comfortable for them.

WALLACE: You talk about abortion. It was on the ballot here in Michigan in November. And you won, the pro-choice side won, and has put abortion rights into the state constitution. 10 years ago when you were a state senator, you shared a very personal story on this subject.


WHITMER: Over 20 years ago I was a victim of rape. And thank God it didn't result in a pregnancy because I can't imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker.


You know how tough I can be. The thought and the memory of that still haunts me.


WALLACE: What adds to that is that after that very heartfelt and I know personally difficult speech for you, you lost on abortion rights in the state legislature then. WHITMER: Yes, it was hard. I had never shared that story publicly and


WALLACE: And what did you decide to do it?

WHITMER: Because the legislature was passing legislation without even having hearings and listening to women or medical providers. And I thought I had a duty to put a face on the debate. And you know, it was depressing. I went home, I called my dad to tell him, because I didn't want him to see in the news. I'd never shared this with him. But by the time --

WALLACE: You'd never shared this with your father?

WHITMER: No. I mean, it was spontaneous. And so -- but I woke up the next morning as depressed as I was. By the time I got into my office at the Capitol we have been inundated by women and supporters of women who called and said thank you for giving voices. This happened to me, too. We had calls and e-mails. I mean, it was really overwhelming and it made me feel better for doing it because I gave space and legitimacy to an issue that too many women in this country, too many girls in this country are exposed to, and have to navigate.

Not everyone finds their voice. It took me decades, two decades to find mine. But I thought when I did find it, I could use it and I maybe could make an impact. It was my duty to try.

WALLACE: So why did it take 10 more years to win the fight? And what does it say that in fact the state of Michigan did vote to put abortion rights in the constitution last November?

WHITMER: You know, we had been saying in Michigan, 60 percent to 70 percent of people support abortion rights. We've been saying that for years. But it was the Supreme Court that made this front and center and galvanized the voters and the people of Michigan, and as I did reproductive rights roundtable around the state, it was -- in one of the conversations where there's a Republican woman sitting at the table and she said, I didn't vote for you all, I've never voted for a Democrat.

But I am out knocking out doors for you and I'm going to make sure you get elected and we pass this ballot initiative. I'm furious they're trying to roll back rights for my daughters. And that's when I realized we're going to win this thing and we're going to do it in a fashion that makes the statement and we did.

WALLACE: Coming up, Governor Whitmer admits to some mistakes with their COVID lockdown and reveals the life-or-death nightmare she still lives with following that foiled kidnapping and assassination plot.


WALLACE: How much did this shake your family up being under this kind of threat?



WALLACE: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer rose to national prominence during the COVID pandemic when she imposed some of the toughest lockdowns in the country. She became a frequent target for former President Trump. And that's where our conversation continues.

During the pandemic, you imposed some of the toughest COVID restrictions in the country, including at one point banning any public gathering outside of a single household. Then President Trump tweeted, "Liberate Michigan," and he also targeted you. Take a look.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Michigan, all she does is she has no idea what's going on and all she does is say, it's the federal government's fault and we've taken such great care of Michigan. Don't call the woman in Michigan. It doesn't make any difference what happens.


TRUMP: You know what? You know what I say? If they don't treat you right, I don't call.


WALLACE: This was at a time in the spring of 2021 when armed protesters, protesters armed with rifles and automatic weapons descended on the state capitol. Between that and being targeted by the president of the United States, how tough of a time was that for you?

WHITMER: Man, it was awful. I mean, the worst part was, it wasn't about the insults and people protesting me. It was that people were dying of this disease that we didn't have a lot of help from the federal government on. We didn't have a lot of knowledge about it. We had refrigerated trucks outside of hospitals in metropolitan Detroit to hold the deceased.

I was begging for masks for doctors and nurses. And so the hardest part of that time was the loss of life and the incredible impact we were feeling at the same time New York, New Orleans and Chicago. We were the epicenter at the beginning of COVID.

WALLACE: Then in October law enforcement broke up a plan to kidnap you and put you on trial. And you have said since then, this wasn't a kidnapping plot. This was an assassination plot.

WHITMER: Well, I mean, let's look at how different attempts get covered, right? So Justice Kavanaugh had someone show up on his lawn, turned himself in, one person. And it's been covered as an assassination attempt. Rightly so.

There were a dozen people who trained for months, staked out my house, had plans to execute me, and it's covered as a kidnapping plot. These plotters had no intention of keeping me. They weren't going to call someone for ransom.


They were going to execute me, kind of like you see, you know, happened in terrorist, you know, situations and that was the plan.

WALLACE: How much did this shake your family up being under this kind of threat?

WHITMER: Well, it was hard. My whole family has made sacrifices. My, you know, my girls I remember, you know, we were all home and there were people with long guns on the front lawn right outside the gate. And they came out and said, what's going on? And you could hear it. The vitriol and the ugliness.

WALLACE: And even for someone known as Big Gretch, this must have shaken you. I mean, obviously the personal threat to your safety with the idea that if there are crazy people out there your husband, your children could also be in danger.

WHITMER: I think about it everywhere I go, Chris. You know, the former president made me a target and threw a lot of gas on the fire and it has continued to burn, and I think about it everywhere I go. So, yes, it's taken a toll. But it's not going to scare me. It's not going to, you know, change who I am and how I operate and how I treat people and the decisions that I have to make. I've got a job to do and I'm going to do it.

WALLACE: You say you think about it all the time. You didn't -- it's not I thought about it all the time. You still think about it all the time.

WHITMER: I do. You know, there are times when I am in public, and I, you know I've got the greatest state police detail in the world. But there are big crowds at times and it does cross my mind. I don't -- I'm not obsessed with it but it does cross my mind.

WALLACE: There's no justification for any violence under any circumstances. But I do want to explore a little bit with you the effectiveness of your lockdowns. Michigan was one of the last states to lift a cap on public gatherings in June 2021. By comparison Florida lifted its cap in September 2020. But the death rate for Florida from June '20 to June '21 was 39.6 per 100,000. The death rate for Michigan was 97.3 per 100,000. So more than double.

Why did Florida do so much better without the cap than Michigan did with the cap?

WHITMER: I've seen a lot of reports about some of the numbers that you've just cited from Florida and perhaps the lack of confidence and the -- you know, in the accuracy of them. I don't know. I'm not going to weigh in on their policies. I'm going to tell you I listened to the best experts in the world. The people here at the University of Michigan. I made hard decisions because lives were on the line. And the biggest

fear in the back of my mind was that this pandemic would look like the 1918 pandemic, which took a lot of young children's lives. And that's why we were aggressive. That's why I think studies here have shown that we have saved thousands of lives and at the end of the day, the most important thing that the government does is keep people safe.

WALLACE: Hindsight is 20/20. But looking back, and looking at some of these numbers, do you think that you overreacted?

WHITMER: If I could go back in a time machine with all the knowledge we've accumulated, would I do some things differently? Absolutely. And any governor who doesn't say that exact same answer doesn't know enough to know what they do and didn't know during the time.

WALLACE: I'm just curious. If there was one thing in particular that you could do differently again knowing then what you know now, what would it be?

WHITMER: Michigan would've been manufacturing the world's masks and swabs, and would have helped to keep people safe.

WALLACE: But I mean in terms of lockdown.

WHITMER: In terms of -- you know, there were moments where we, you know, had to make some decisions that in retrospect don't make a lot of sense, right? If you went into the hardware store, you can go to the hardware store, but we didn't want people, you know, all congregating around the gardening supplies. People said, she's outlawed seats. It was February in Michigan. No one was planting anyway.

But that being said, you know, some of those policies I look back and think, you know, well, maybe it was a little more than we needed to do.

WALLACE: I know that you are all in on Joe Biden for 2024. But if something happened, would a Democratic candidate, who had won sweeping reelection as a Midwestern governor, with an impressive record of bipartisan accomplishments, be an attractive candidate for president?



WHITMER: Sure. That sounds like a great description. That said, I am not running for president in 2024. Period.

WALLACE: I mean, if something happened, you might.

WHITMER: No, I've made a commitment. I've signed up for a second term as governor and I am going to work every single day to be the best governor I can and put this state in the best position it can be in when I leave and handed over to whomever comes after me.

WALLACE: So I checked, I did my research and it turns out that in 2028 you will be 56 years old, which may, under the current climate, be too young to run for president.


WALLACE: But you're not ruling out ever considering running for president, are you?

WHITMER: You know, when I left the legislature, I never thought I'd run for anything again and here I am sitting governor of Michigan in my second term. I'll say this, you know, my mother died of glioblastoma at the age of 59. And that is in the back of my head. I'm not a fatalist. I'm not, you know, thinking that my days are numbered in the near future but that weighs on my mind on occasion.

I feel really lucky to be exactly where I am right now. This is where I want to be and we will see what happens down the future. But I am not making any secret plans in any, you know, smoky rooms.

WALLACE: Coming up, actress Jessica Alba talks about her transformation from Hollywood starlet to Wall Street entrepreneur. And she reveals the surprising way she makes big decisions.


WALLACE: That's always a good time to make a decision.

ALBA: Why not? You don't have -- you're not overthinking so much.





(Clip from "Dark Angel.")

WALLACE: She burst on the scene as a teenager with the TV series, "Dark Angel," propelling Jessica Alba to magazine cover TV commercials.

(Clip from TV commercial.)

WALLACE: And landing her roles in box office franchises like "Sin City."

(Clip from "Sin City.")

WALLACE: And as the Invisible Woman in "Fantastic Four."

Now, she morphed her career from acting, to running a business empire.

(Clip from advertisement.)

WALLACE: And as you're about to find out, that dream is now a half a billion dollar reality. (END VIDEO CLIP)


WALLACE: Jessica Alba, welcome. I'm excited to get the chance to sit down and talk with you.


WALLACE: So let's start with the Honest Company, your natural, nontoxic, baby, beauty and home care company, and let's talk about the arc of this. When did you first become concerned about all the chemicals in the products we all use?

ALBA: I think I didn't realize maybe how troublesome the reality of the product industry could be or really was until I researched into it when I was pregnant with my first child.

I was really searching for a business that really stood for the values that I had around clean ingredients, transparency, and what was even in something and what, you know, was it safe? So that's where this idea of like, can I create a solution?

WALLACE: So why did you call it The Honest Company?

ALBA: Well, my daughter, Honor, she really inspired the company and I just loved all of the values associated with the word. Well, certainly my daughter's name, Honor, and the word, honest. And I had some friends at the time, we were brainstorming, we had a bunch of wine and you know, I had -- I looked --

WALLACE: It is always good time to make a decision when you're drinking.

ALBA: Why not? You don't have -- you're not overthinking so much and yes, I just really loved this idea around honesty, and just everything that's associated with that word. And wow, what if a company could really be genuinely and truly honest.

WALLACE: Which raises a question that people have raised about your company. Some critics accuse you of greenwashing, as you know, and say that you claim your products are more ecofriendly than they really are. And one of the things they say is that you have some of the same synthetic ingredients in your diapers as Pampers does. Is that true?

ALBA: It's interesting because we actually don't greenwash. I think there's a lot of like hype words that a lot of the competitors use, but it's just simply like we've never said that, you know, our products are made from something that grew in your backyard. Like we are really transparent about the fact that like not everything in nature is safe and not everything synthetic is horrible.

And it really is about a standard with toxicologists, a regulatory team, chemists that really, we built an honest standard. We have to also just see, you know, is this depleting the planet of this natural resource? And we think about that, you know, this certain ingredient like, what does it really do for human health? Is it really safe or unsafe? And is there another alternative that would be better? We'll always look into that.

WALLACE: Jessica, I want to ask you about your transition from acting to business and you're not alone. I mean, it's so interesting. Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz and others have done a similar thing.

Why did you decide not -- you're still acting -- but to focus more on the business side?


ALBA: You know, I did take a break for a while. I think entertainment is interesting.

I love -- it's like a passion of mine still is the ability to like tell stories and to be able to be someone else, frankly, that's why I wanted to do it in the first place.

But when I had my daughter, I think my priorities shifted a bit, and I thought about my purpose differently. And I really started to assess what was bringing me joy and what felt at that time, a little bit draining. And I think at the time, I felt a bit tapped out with entertainment, with where it was that it was pre #MeToo Movement and I think, you know, this is a very different Hollywood today than it was 14 years ago.

And I -- you know, I just took a step back and kind of let it do its thing. Entertainment, it was really like -- the town was very different. A lot more toxic masculinity ran a lot of the decision making.

WALLACE: I want to pursue that because there was a lot of focus on your looks in your acting career. Here's a scene from the movie "Sin City."


JOHN HARTIGAN, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: Nancy Callahan, 19 years old.

Here I was expecting a skinny little bookworm. Maybe a bit too shy for her own good.


WALLACE: So the question I have is, did that bother you? The degree to which you were objectified as a sex symbol?

ALBA: Yes. I think it's funny because, I guess, I understood that I needed to help sell the product and they sell it how they do, so I understood it as a business decision and a strategy, then I don't think that there's anything wrong with being and owning your sexuality.

I just frankly, at that time I was definitely not that person. I was very nervous about all of that and I was quite uncomfortable in my own skin. And I think it wasn't until I became a mom that I really started to even see myself as a woman or a sexual being or someone who owned her power and her femininity.

At that time, I felt like I was very much having to put up this armor of masculine and masculine energy, so I wouldn't, you know, be preyed on because there were a lot of predators in Hollywood from you know, age 12 until 26 when I got pregnant with Honor and --

WALLACE: How did you deal with that?

ALBA: I was aware. I put up that -- I think my energy was really like, ugh. I was really -- I was really tough, man. I cursed like a sailor and I was very -- I tried -- I think I tried to make myself as unavailable as possible so that I wouldn't be taken advantage of.

WALLACE: Another one of your big roles was Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman in the "Fantastic Four." Take a look here.


SUSAN STORM, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: It's nice to be wanted sometimes, Reed. To be seen and heard.

Look at me.


SUSAN STORM: What do you mean you can't? Look at me.

REED RICHARDS: Sue, look at your hands.


WALLACE: So how did you reconcile this fact? That on the one hand, your looks helped your career, but on the other hand, you were not comfortable exploiting your looks?

ALBA: I don't know if I wasn't comfortable exploiting my looks. I think it was the yuckiness as to which it was kind of framed because I actually -- I don't think it's a horrible thing to be, like I said, a sexy -- you're a sexual human. Great. That's how we populate this world.

But it's not the only thing that someone can possibly be. There has to be more to somebody than just one thing. And I think, sometimes, if there's an emphasis to around just one thing, so it's almost like the lowest common denominator. And if people just sort of judge you based off of a lowest common denominator of what a lot of people say, you just feel really kind of dumbed down.

It's not dynamic or complex.

WALLACE: Which you clearly are.

ALBA: Oh thanks.



WALLACE: Still to come, Jessica Alba's big break thanks to a Hollywood legend and her biggest challenge as the celebrity mother of three.


ALBA: I wrestle with this and I try to like --



WALLACE: Well before her half billion dollar beauty brand, Jessica Alba lived paycheck to paycheck, putting into practice the lessons her immigrant parents taught her, lessons she now credits for her success.


WALLACE: You grew up in a traditional and conservative Mexican- American family.

ALBA: True story.


WALLACE: What were you told were the expectations for you?

ALBA: Not a lot of expectations other than like, hopefully you'll find, you know, a good husband that'll take care of you.

WALLACE: Really?

ALBA: That was a judgment from my grandparents. Not a bad one because that was, frankly, the reality that they grew up with. And they worked so hard to get to where they were at in their life, and they dealt with so much racism and segregation.

I mean, this -- California was still segregated until my dad was five. And so, you know, growing up with that, like shame that you don't deserve to be here, I think it really -- and there is no space for you, I think it really affects your psyche.

WALLACE: Let me pick up on this because you say that your family lived in survival mode, paycheck to paycheck, and that when you were pursuing a career, you had one goal, which was to be financially secure.

ALBA: Yes, so I didn't have to live with that scarcity and that survival, so that I can breathe a little bit and give myself room to dream.

It's weird, because my father, I think he always had this sort of like, he was living between a machismo kind of Mexican thing. But then also, he said, you can be anything you want. Don't bow down to a man. Don't feel like you need to compromise who you are and you can be anything and do anything that you want to be in life. And my mother actually encouraged me in that way, too.

I don't know if they were living that reality for themselves, but they certainly encouraged it for my brother and I.

WALLACE: By your early teens, you were doing TV commercials, and you also got a role on a TV series, "The Secret World of Alex Mack." Take a look.


JESSICA, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: I'm watching you, Alex, I know what you're up to.


JESSICA: Hello, your seventh grader. You don't have the power to do anything and if you do decide to go to the dance tomorrow night, I suggest you stay out of our way.


WALLACE: I hope you were acting when you were such a mean girl.

ALBA: Oh, my God. Yes. Because I was being bullied every day in middle school. So, it was fun to be able to channel the people who were making my life a living hell.

WALLACE: Was that the fun of acting for you? Just to be somebody else?

ALBA: A hundred percent. Yes. I grew up really sick and I was -- I spent a lot of time in hospitals and I had quite a few surgeries and I didn't have a lot of friends and I was always a little weird. I was always kind of eccentric.

I could always relate more with adults than kids. And so, yes, I really wanted to be somebody else.

WALLACE: In 2000, you got your big break when James Cameron chose you to play the role of Max Guevara, a genetically engineered soldier in the TV show "Dark Angel."

ALBA: Yes.

WALLACE: Take a look.


MAX GUEVARA, FICTIONAL CHARACTER: You lack that professional edge, Bruno. Any real pro would have caught me the second he saw this thing going sideways, but you're still standing there you're your thumb up your butt. It's pathetic.



WALLACE: Did you realize at the time that she would be seen as a symbol of female empowerment.

ALBA: I didn't realize at the time how she would impact so many people. I just knew how she impacted me. I was -- I felt empowered. I felt seen.

Jim --

WALLACE: James Cameron.

ALBA: James Cameron was so generous and "Chic," Charles Eglee, they really built the entire show around me and allowed me to kind of have like, a peek inside of what it means to like have a seed of an idea and build it from scratch. They gave me that seat at that table.

And that experience never left me so, I think I walked in from then on with a swag or like -- I stood up differently, and I felt like I belong there no matter how much anyone tried to tell me that I didn't.

WALLACE: Even though you're a business mogul, you'll still do some acting. In this context, how do you choose which roles you want to do and which ones you don't?


ALBA: I think like would it be fun? And I think about like I don't know. We don't have a lot of time here on this Earth. It goes by really fast and if I'm going to put my time and my energy into something, am I going to vibe with the director? And are we going to have a great experience? And, you know, does the character really line up and the story line up with something that I could care about?

WALLACE: You're 41, you're happily married, you have three kids. How has being a mom changed you?

ALBA: It really connected me with my femininity and what that means and my -- I think, my true power as a person that's here for a reason and get me out of, frankly, me being in survival mode and worried about a bunch of other things that don't matter. And trying to live inside of a super hardcore like world where I felt like I was so disconnected from my truth. I think that being a mom really helped me get closer to my soul and my truth.

WALLACE: You talk about having grown up in financially modest circumstances. How do you guard against your kids taking for granted the much more comfortable circumstances that they're growing up in?

ALBA: I wrestle with this, and I try -- I try to like -- I try to get them to understand a reality, that's just frankly, not a reality that they'll ever understand and I really wrestled with this one.

I don't -- it's not possible for them to understand what it was like for me, or what it's genuinely like for other people. I think more importantly, I really, really want them to have empathy and compassion, and humility and really operate in the world with kindness and gratitude.

WALLACE: Finally, your career from acting to business has taken an unusual path. Where are you today both in terms of The Honest Company and in terms of Hollywood?

ALBA: I have an incredible new partner, CEO, Carla Vernon. She is amazing. This is just like such an amazing time for the business and I think it's finally moving in the direction that I always hoped it would.

WALLACE: And Hollywood?

ALBA: And Hollywood is interesting. I think I was so used to kind of the rat race and you know, so grateful for the opportunity. And now I'm just like, yo, like, how about, we can just be civilized with one another and we can talk about what a great business partnership this could be, how you can benefit and how I can benefit from this and we could both do something good.

And so I just have like a different approach and understanding of what's possible in entertainment.


WALLACE: Coming up, a big announcement for a favorite TV show.



WALLACE: Finally tonight, one of the most popular shows on TV announced its upcoming season will also be its last. I'm talking about HBOs "Barry," the hilarious yet dramatic story of a hitman turned struggling actor. Its creator and star, Bill Hader and said this week they realized while writing Season Four that a "very clear ending" presented itself.

Season Four starts in mid-April and we've got a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cousineau, what happened back there? I was just trying to protect you.

I don't know where people are telling you but and then what I said to you. I love you.



WALLACE: Hader's costar Henry Winkler, who plays acting coach Gene Cousineau joined me last fall to talk about "Barry," and why it's become the favorite role of his long career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WALLACE: I love the show, and I love you in this show. Now, who is this guy?

HENRY WINKLER, ACTOR: This guy is a compilation of somebody that the writers were writing about who taught here in LA and the 14 teachers that I had over my school career from college and graduate school.

WALLACE: Were they really that bad?

WINKLER: You know what, it's not a matter of being that bad. It is a matter of teachers of acting are a very strange breed and that a lot of them think they have to tear you down in order to build you up.

WALLACE: You have said that of all the things you've done in your career that this is the best. What is so special about playing Gene Cousineau in "Barry"?

WINKLER: There is an expression that if it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage. And Bill Hader and Alec Berg, Liz and Duffy and Justin, they write and give you such a jumping off place.

They give you such a blueprint in order to create your character and I'm telling you that it's just magnificent to be.

There's also a policy of no assholes on the set, and they have kept to that.


WALLACE: There is so much more of my conversation with Henry Winkler, along with my sit-downs with Governor Whitmer and actress, Jessica Alba. You can catch their full interviews anytime you want on HBO Max.

And join us next Sunday night here on CNN when my guests are "Succession" star, Brian Cox and actress and activist Eva Longoria.

Thank you for watching and good night.