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Lizzy Mathis and Jessica Alba portrait

Lizzy Mathis (left) and Jessica Alba (right).

Jason Marck

Jessica Alba and Lizzy Mathis put parents at the heart of ‘Honest Renovations’

Actresses Jessica Alba and Lizzy Mathis may be best known for their work in scripted TV shows and movies, but they’re also moms and entrepreneurs. The two are using their experiences to help parents in a new home renovation show, Honest Renovations. The show, which premiers on the Roku Channel on Aug. 18, fixes families’ homes to help them be less cluttered and more functional.

Alba and Mathis recently sat down with WBEZ’s Reset to discuss their inspiration for Honest Renovations and what makes it different from other home renovation shows.

On their inspiration for creating a home renovation show

Alba: “During COVID, Lizzy and I created a kind of scrappy content production company. We basically took my house rental and we just turned it into a makeshift office studio. We just started creating a lot of content and we renovated our spaces we were working in and we just enjoyed it so much. I’ve done tons of renovations over my life … big ones, small ones and different types of spaces — so I am definitely an interior design enthusiast.”

On what makes Honest Renovations different

Alba: “[Lizzy] really connects with the families that we’re working with to really bring out, like, what do they really need and how do we make sure that we show up for them in a human way? I think a lot of the home renovation shows are great, but you miss the heart and soul of who’s getting this renovation. We wanted that to be the feature and the highlight of our show. But you also get really dope before and afters, which is what everybody needs in their life.”

On how other unscripted shows inspired Alba and Mathis

Alba: “Oh, I would say all of them and none of them. … We’re standing on the shoulders of people who have done this genre and paved the way for this to be something that people want to watch in the unscripted space. But at the same time we really wanted to make it ours and like what’s our vibe, and our vibe is we are playful. We do have fun. We are real, like soul sisters. We tell each other the truth. We cry together, we laugh together and we wanted to bring the humanity of our relationship forward as well as the families, really make them the centerpieces of the show. We really wanted to also design around their unique needs and then each state of every stage of their lives.”

On meeting people from all walks of life

Mathis: “[The show is] an intimate experience. It’s also very vulnerable for our families. … These are the problems that we are solving, these are the transitions that these families were having. They weren’t necessarily easy or glamorous, like, you know, families. We were talking into space that they weren’t proud of and I think that took a lot for them. … We wanted them to know that they were not alone, that we all have been there and done that.”

Alba: “We wanted to create a safe space for them to be able to not feel judged.”

On how their experiences got them interested in interior design

Mathis: “For me, design kind of came just through traveling. I was a model for so many years and I was constantly traveling, constantly on the go and traveled to many different countries and saw a lot of different cultures and lived in many different places. A lot of design comes from … being able to see how other people live and how they solve different issues.”

Alba: “I started acting at age 12, and so from a trailer or a random apartment in a strange country, to me it was strange when I would have to go and live for 10 months at a time doing a show or a job. I would have to try and make all of these spaces that were really cold and generic feel like home. … I’ve had to go through the growing pains of changing my home over the years to fit my kids’ needs and also try to hang onto my own identity.”

On a second season

Mathis: “We’re going to start shooting [season 2] soon. The Roku channel picked it up and they really loved season 1. … We are really excited to be partners with them because it’s free to anyone at any time. No need to subscribe to watch our show.”

Bianca Cseke is a digital producer at WBEZ. Meha Ahmad is the senior producer of WBEZ's Reset. You can follow her on Twitter @Meha. Andrew Meriwether is a producer for WBEZ’s Reset.

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