Her mother has Danish , Welsh , German , English , and French ancestry, while her paternal grandparents, who were born in California, were both the children of Mexican immigrants. Her third cousin, once removed, is writer Gustavo Arellano. During childhood, she suffered from partially collapsed lungs twice, had pneumonia four to five times a year, as well as a ruptured appendix and a tonsillar cyst. In , the year-old Alba persuaded her mother to take her to an acting competition in Beverly Hills , where the grand prize was free acting classes. Alba won the grand prize, and took her first acting lessons. An agent signed Alba nine months later.