Alba is the mother of Xiomara Villanueva and the grandmother of Jane. Alba loves telenovelas, her favorite being The Passions of Santos. Alba is a very big believer in God and a devout Catholic. She believes that God has our lives in his hands and will guide us. She usually speaks Spanish, only speaking English if needed. However, she can understand English perfectly. Alba is really the Villanueva rock throughout any tumultuous relationships and events that may occur in her daughter and granddaughter's lives. During any tension between Xo and Jane, Alba will provide clarity and often a bit of grounded, tongue-in-cheek advice or a remark to lighten existence. She is sassy, at some times ironic and sarcastic, very opinionated and also a gifted writer.
Alba has sex for the first time, with Pablo.
Alba and her husband, Mateo Villanueva, decide to move to the U.S. following a falling-out with Mateo's family, where Mateo gives up any inheritance from his wealthy progenitors to make Alba's dreams come true.
When her daughter Xiomara became pregnant with Jane at age 16, Alba was angry and disappointed. Alba told her daughter to have an abortion (a fact which she is ashamed of today) but Xiomara refused and kept the baby.
After Xiomara got pregnant with Jane at a young age, Alba taught her granddaughter Jane the beauty of the flower, which is to not lose your virginity before getting married because you can never get it back, much like how a flower is never the same once it has been crumpled. This lesson has stayed with Jane all her life.
After somewhat abruptly being introduced in real life to El Presidente himself, Alba feels that Xo should inform Jane that her father is real and, in fact, lives in Miami. Alba is also very comforting and understanding after Xo tells Alba that she is afraid what having kept Rogelio secret will do to Xo's relationship with Jane. Following the fallout over Rogelio between Jane and Xo, Alba is supportive of both, never refraining from divulging her direct opinions on the situation or call both her offspring out when she feels the situation calls for it.
While at times in the first season Alba appears to go easier on Jane than Xo, she learns to understand that, although Xo never left home, she is very much an adult woman. There are flashbacks to Xo and Alba's fights when Jane was growing up, and it seems that the dawn of a new time in their lives with Rogelio, Rafael and later Mateo playing big roles in their lives affecting the old constellations of their family unit.
Everything Jane and Xo experience seem to both encourage and inspire Alba and she finds herself interested in a man at the gym, where she is rehabilitated after Magda's attack. She is the active pursuer at first and even asks Edward out concurrent with Jane finding out that he is actually a priest. While the relationship never develops following this revelation, it seems to have awakened something in Alba that she has not felt in a long time.
Alba continues her role as the Villanueva family rock, after Mateo's kidnapping and subsequent return leaves lasting imprints on new mother, Jane. Impressively unfazed by her accident last year, when Jane's temperament has the police knocking on their door, Alba charges ahead and decides to go for her green card to end years of living in constant worry over being deported. Mateo's baptism is a love letter to the life Alba and her late husband Mateo, after whom her great-grandson is named, sought to create when they chose to move to the U.S. in the 1970s embodied by an actual love letter to Xiomara, written by Alba when she had first arrived in the country in lieu of any Venezuelan traditions. When Alba discusses time for a romantic life with Jane, who is newly dating for the first time, Alba appears to have some regrets about keeping herself from that kind of relationship following her husband's death.
As Jane toys with the notion of having sex and leaves Alba out of the equation, Alba feels hurt and tells Jane that no matter what, Alba would rather be a part of Jane's life and that she will not judge Jane's actions. Alba also reveals to Jane that she had pre-marital sex, with someone before Mateo Villanueva. Alba reaches out to Pablo Alonso Segura, and Jane accidentally reads their chats, discovering that Pablo is the man Alba slept with many years ago. Xiomara accidentally reads the chat as well and finally releases all the anguish and shaming that her Alba has put her through her whole life. Alba realizes she has been punishing her daughters, the way she was shamed by society for her own actions. Alba apologises profusely to Xiomara and the two make amends.
Alba agrees to go on a date with Pablo and quickly falls under his spell again. After proposing to an astonished Alba, who says yes, Pablo turns out to be romancing several women and furious, Alba curses him back to Venezuela! She, along with Jane, Mateo, and Xo, take Rafael up on his generous offer to stay at The Marbella while their house undergoes repairs following a flood. While preparing for Jane wedding Michael, Alba secretly helps him learn his vows in Spanish to surprise Jane at the ceremony.
Alba supports Jane, alongside the whole family, while Michael recovers in the hospital. Michael and Jane move in with Alba so Jane can have help with caring for Michael while he recuperates, as Alba is a trained nurse. Jane asks her Abuela if she will tell Jane about her family in Venezuela, a subject Alba isn't too comfortable with. After working as a part-time caretaker, Alba decides to take a job at the Marbella gift shop. Jane wants to read letters that Alba's estranged sister, Cecilia, sent her and Alba reluctantly agrees. Out of the blue, Cecilia phones Alba and she is furious with Jane. Jane tries to explain and Alba reveals that because Cecilia told their village that Alba had had premarital sex, their mother died not speaking to Alba.
Jane reaches out to her extended family against Alba's wishes and Alba is so hurt that they have a temporary rift. After a while, Alba confides in Xo that she doesn't like feeling this distant from Jane and so, Alba agrees to have her great-niece, Catalina, who's staying with Jane, over for dinner. At dinner, Catalina and Alba share a lot of stories about her father and family in general, that Jane and Xo don't seem to know very well. However, when Cat says that Cecilia was heartbroken that Mateo fell in love with Alba because Cecilia had loved him for a long time, Alba is furious and throws Cat out. She later apologizes to Jane for losing her temper and confesses that she didn't know about her sister's feelings for Mateo. They make up, though Alba warns Jane about Cecilia's granddaughter, Catalina, telling Jane not to trust that side of the family.
- “Gracias, por contar mi historia”
- —Alba to Jane, about the book[src]
After patching things up, Alba lays the guilt on Jane for not having attended church in a long time. As Xo and Bruce reunite, Jane is furious but Alba is on board and supports her daughter's new relationship. According to Alba, Bruce is now divorced and so she's decided to leave the matter of Xo and Bruce's affair in the past and give it a chance going forward. Alba attends the conclusion of Rogelio's telenovela, Tiago a Través del Tiempo — multiple times, as Rogelio keeps changing his mind about the final episode theme. Rafael asks Cat to leave and, after some suspicious behavior and overstaying her welcome, the Villanuevas are relieved to see her go. Jane finishes her novel about Alba's family in Venezuela, but Xo thinks Alba won't like the creative license Jane has taken, as it's some tough memories for Alba as well. By chance, Alba finds the manuscript in Xo's bag and reads it. She tells Jane, applauding Jane's talent for writing and thanks her for dedicating that talent to Alba's roots. Xo tells Alba and Jane that she and Bruce are talking about moving in together, in maybe 6 months, so she's mentioning it now to give Alba some time to let it sink it. Although Alba's saddened about the prospect of another daughter leaving and having to live alone, she's happy for Xiomara and tells her she hopes it happens.
3 years later
After Michael's death, Jane and Mateo move back in with Alba. Alba contends with Mateo's hyperactivity and outbursts, while the generational difference is again evident in her instinctual approach to disciplining Mateo, while Jane tries out different systems that Alba finds difficult to keep track of. She and Jane stage a minor intervention to end the feud between Xo and Rogelio caused by his reality show. With her family, Alba attends Jane's public reading of her book. Alba beams with pride as she tells Xo what a strong woman Xo raised, and Xo says it was both of them, to a touched Alba. At their first family dinner together all 4 of them in 2 years, Xo gets a video which reveals that Rogelio knew about the 'evil ex' storyline in his reality show and actually gave the okay to do it. Everyone's angry with him, but Xo is insulted and furious, throwing him out. Rogelio later attempts to make amends with Alba and Jane first, gifting them his patented 'Ropology' baskets. When he presents it to Alba, she talks to Rogelio about why he did it, and he says he wanted the show to be a hit after the humiliation following his meltdown at his indie film premiere. Alba tells him that he doesn't seem like the same person, lying to them for 2 years; that he's lost touch with reality. Alba's thrilled as Bruce proposes to Xo and she accepts.
Jane finds out that Jorge broke up with his girlfriend and runs home to tell Alba and Xo. They're thrilled, but Alba's wary and says he probably needs time to get over it. Jane says she heard Jorge says that they'd been drifting apart for a while and that he didn't seem sad. Alba's still has feelings for Jorge all these years they've worked together and she's nervous about having to make her first real move on her first real date since Mateo. With encouragement from her girls, she makes a subtle move, but nothing happens and she tells them that he just doesn't see her romantically. Xo tells her that was hardly a move and Alba gets all flustered. Xo convinces her to let Xo dress her up to flirt and Alba thinks she looks dumb, but Jane is very impressed with her glamour. Confidently, Alba shows up at the gift shop and Jorge's mouth drops. She feels his attention and tries to flirt, but ends up slipping on the floor. Mortified, Alba calls it the most embarrassing moment of her life.
- Main article: Alba and Mateo
Alba's first husband was the love of her life. The two presumably met in Venezuela, from where they both hail, and as Alba wanted to move to the U.S., they did so, starting a new life and a family there. Mateo passed away on 12 June 1989, and Alba expresses guilt to Xiomara over how hard Mateo had to work to support the family, which she feels led to his early passing. It is not specified either what Mateo's profession was, but he encouraged Alba in hers, which was work as a nurse for the elderly, a long way into her pregnancy with Xiomara, who became the couple's only child.
- Main article: Alba and Jane
Alba is Jane's grandmother. It was Alba who first instilled in Jane the idea of staying a virgin until her wedding night, saying a virginity lost was like a smashed flower: it can never go back to what it once was. Alba found Jane's prescription and was hurt by the idea that her granddaughter had broken her vow; when Jane told her she was accidentally inseminated, Alba revealed to her that she ordered Xiomara to have an abortion and later regretted it, for Jane is the most important person in her life. She also adds that the baby will be the most important person in Jane's life. Alba is a very religious woman; the narrator says Alba's passions in life are "God and Jane, exactly in this order". For Alba, there's nothing that Jane could do that she couldn't forgive her for.
- Main article: Xiomara and Alba
Xiomara and Alba are two very different people, both in terms of character and generation. However, they share core values in life such as caring for family, standing your ground and standing up for what you believe is right – the latter of which may be the reason for their many conflicts, as they are both two very strong, stubborn and capable people. Recently, Alba and Xo have come to understand each other better, partially helped by the addition to their family – Jane's father Rogelio.
When Rogelio is first introduced to the Villanueva household (specifically Alba, as Jane was not yet told), Alba is somewhat starstruck for a while as she knows him only as El Presidente from the telenovela The Passions of Santos. Add to that, she meets him in quite a precarious situation – in bed with her daughter. After a while, they start to have a rather more normal and loving relationship, with Rogelio even remarking that Alba is mean to him when she makes snarky remarks about his ego.
- Main article: Alba and Jorge
Jorge is Alba's current husband. Alba developed a crush on Jorge 3 years after they began working together in the Marbella gift shop. Though being very shy and afraid to try for a relationship with Jorge since she hasn't been with anyone since the death of her true love, she gains the confidence to make a move. Xiomara inspires her to come out of her shell and show Jorge a non-work side of herself by dressing up when going to see him. Alba does so and Jorge is speechless when he sees her. However, Alba slips and falls causing her to go home embarrassed. However, it is revealed that Jorge was impressed by her gesture and asked her out on a date. They dated for a long time before breaking up after Alba rejected his marriage proposal twice. Alba later realized that she did love Jorge enough to marry him, however, it was too late as he had reunited with his ex-fiance Sofia and Alba was left heartbroken. Jorge eventually ends things with Sofia and Alba agreed to legally marry him so that he could visit his sick mother in Mexico and come home without any problems. Jorge then confessed to Alba that he still loved her and had only pretended to be over her out of pride and out of being hurt over her rejecting him. They embrace and share a magical kiss by the kitchen window. They then get remarried, this time out of love, in a small ceremony.
- Alba taught Jane to watch telenovelas.
- Alba had pre-marital sex and was shamed by the society she lived in at the time.
- Among Alba's favorites are The Passions of Santos, and around the early 2000s – Los Milagros de Mariana.
- Alba had a crush on Edward, who turned out to be a priest.
- She became a U.S Citizen on May 11th, 2021.
Notes and references