Reese Witherspoon: Spearheading Her Career and Empowering Women at the Same Time
Sat, April 10, 2021

Reese Witherspoon: Spearheading Her Career and Empowering Women at the Same Time

Oscar-winning actress, producer, activist, and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon has established an empire that aligns with her own work ethic as she has grown tired of magazine spreads and terrible scripts / Photo by: Tinseltown via Shutterstock

 

Oscar-winning actress, producer, activist, and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon has established an empire that aligns with her own work ethic as she has grown tired of magazine spreads and terrible scripts, wrote Lacey Rose of Hollywood Reporter, an entertainment and Hollywood news website. Now, she creates projects all over Hollywood and counters criticisms about her paychecks with: “Does it bother people when Kobe Bryant or LeBron James make their contract?” 

"You ready for your eyes to roll back in your head?" This warning comes off an hour or so at lunch at San Vicente Bungalows after Witherspoon fished her phone from her purse. Sliding it across the table, the screen showed an illustration that was published on Time magazine four years ago with the headline “Hollywood’s New Domestic Divas.” 

 

Sexist Criticism On Witherspoon’s Paycheck

The photo depicted Witherspoon dressed in an evening gown and apron in the center while holding a vacuum. She is flanked by Gwyneth Paltrow holding a strawberry shortcake and Jessica Alba wielding an iron. Blake Lively and Lauren Conrad— dressed in formal attire—are in the photo too, with a mixing bowl and cleaning supplies. Witherspoon could not contain her rage. She asked, “What? Men are entrepreneurs but how dare we be anything more than actresses?” She argued that women are expected to stay in their lane. She remembered calling one of the women and asking them, “What are we going to do about this?” 

Channeling her fury into building an empire for and about women, Witherspoon’s three-year-old company Hello Sunshine has an immense presence in television, podcasts, publishing, and film. Her online book club is set to surpass that of Ophrah Winfrey’s. Jennifer Aniston, who co-stars with Witherspoon on Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show,” said, “She's one of the most determined people I know.” 

Hollywood doesn’t underestimate Witherspoon as of late. On TV, she has several series set up at Hulu, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO. From pitch to post, she’s hands-on. The shows guarantee heated bidding wars and lavish production budgets. With Apple launching its entire Apple TV+ content in November, the company paid Witherspoon and Aniston a reported “$2 million per episode each for their contributions.” 

Witherspoon pointed out one reviewer who highlighted the size of her paycheck in his critique of the show. “There seemed to be resentment, as if we weren't worth it or it was bothersome, and I thought, 'Why is that bothersome?’”  

Hollywood doesn’t underestimate Witherspoon as of late. On TV, she has several series set up at Hulu, Netflix, Hulu, and HBO. From pitch to post, she’s hands-on / Photo by: Arniep via Wikimedia Commons

 

Acting: From Hobby to Full-Time Career

Witherspoon’s experience in acting started when she was only nine when her parents signed her up for a local commercial. The gig led to acting classes, which in turn made her star in Robert Mulligan’s coming-of-age film “The Man in the Moon” by 14. Acting was just a hobby for Witherspoon as school was her passion— and she was good at it. She was a straight-A student by high school, earning her the nickname Little Miss Type A, which became the name of Witherspoon’s first production company. 

In 1995, she was accepted at Stanford. Her parents encouraged her to pursue her education, but the acting offers came like a tidal wave. Witherspoon, then a sophomore student, dropped out to pursue a full-time career in L.A. She won roles in the 1999 teen noir “Cruel Intentions,” where she met Ryan Phillippe, her first husband, and in Alexander Payne’s cult classic “Election,” where she played as Tracy Flick. 

Witherspoon’s life changed when she gave birth to her daughter, Ava, when she was only 23. She stated, “I had to grow up really fast and figure out what woman I wanted to be for my daughter.” Witherspoon’s professional choices began to carry more weight. Playing the role of Elle from “Legally Blonde” did not initially fit Witherspoon’s vision. “She was afraid it was too similar to "Clueless," which had recently come out, in terms of the character,” Marc Platt, who pushed the actress in the role, explained. Platt told Witherspoon that he wanted Elle to be a role model so that her daughters can watch and think “that they can live in a world where they can do anything.” 

Witherspoon endured and persevered multiple rounds of auditions for “Legally Blonde.” She even went out on a meeting with executives in character, complete with a Southern California accent to show she could play the role of Elle. The movie proved to be a huge hit, earning $142 million worldwide in 2001. 

The Shrew

In the early days of her career, Witherspoon reflected that she would try to land roles and a studio executive would always reject her casting, wrote Kirsten Chuba of Hollywood Reporter. Her agent told her that the executive thought she was Tracy Flick, perceiving her as a shrew. “Shrew” pertains to a woman who is violent in temper and speech. 

However, Witherspoon understands that “shrew” refers to a woman “who speaks her mind and raises her voice against a system, which underestimates her.” She said, “Thank you. I am a shrew. Does anyone else here feel like they're a shrew? Raise your hand — I knew I liked you, people!”

Witherspoon refuses to be undermined by sexist norms and criticisms in Hollywood, voicing out her thoughts without hesitation. She will continue to be an inspiration for other women in the entertainment business and elsewhere. 

Witherspoon refuses to be undermined by sexist norms and criticisms in Hollywood, voicing out her thoughts without hesitation. She will continue to be an inspiration for other women in the entertainment business and elsewhere / Photo by: Denis Makarenko via Shutterstock