Reese Witherspoon: “Courage and self-esteem are my driving force”

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VShese are those who are born shy, thoughtful, cautious and discreet, and there are those who from the start throw themselves into the adventure with elan. There are those who find themselves face down and those who fly high and conquer the world. Reese Witherspoon belongs to the second category. I’m going to tell you an anecdote she told me during an interview for The morning showthe television series of which she is an executive producer and for which she has just been nominated by Film Actors Guild (the American Actors Union) for Best Actress.

“I was in ninth grade, our teacher asked us what we wanted to do when we grew up. A friend of mine confidently said “The fireman”, my friend “The doctor”, and me: “I want to be the first female president of the United States!”. Everyone burst out laughing, but I remember the teacher saying, ‘I’ll be in the front row to vote for you. Reese Witherspoon has yet to make it to the White House, but her professional and political rise in Hollywood is exceptional. Actress, producer, entrepreneur, the young protagonist of Revenge of the Blondes she is one of the highest paid stars today – two million dollars for each episode of The Morning Show – and according to Forbes the richest actress in the world. In fact, last August, Witherspoon sold his company, Hello Sunshine – founded five years ago to promote women’s stories (culturally and ethnically diverse) then extended to all media sectors – for $900 million. A stroke of brilliance, especially since she continues to participate actively. His popularity continues to grow: he has 27 million followers on Instagram and his own e-commerce site Reese’s Book Club, founded in 2017, continues to thrive. And not only: the books that she reads and chooses, all of authors, are often adapted for the small or the big screen and appear regularly in the list of the best-sellers of New York Times. Witherspoon proudly tells us about her adventures and her commitments, often laughing at the misadventures, the unsuccessful encounters to convince the establishment that an actress can also be an entrepreneur, and to create a production company that can compete with the Study.

Women, let’s talk about money

Isn’t it just George Clooney or Mark Wahlberg who are creating business empires – with tequila or Wahlburgers restaurants – outside of Hollywood? Of course not, but it takes a healthy dose of courage and self-esteem to survive in the conservative, macho reality of the entertainment world. She tells us, after the first successes and the inevitable setbacks, that she understood a fundamental point: “It is important, even essential, that we women talk about money. We never talk enough about the importance of earning money, saving money, achieving equal pay. Knowing how the market works means being able to manage your finances: I’ve met too many women impoverished by failed marriages or tied to families that don’t work. I also had negative financial experiences, but I am convinced that I can do something for women, especially young women, by teaching them what it means to earn money”.

Women’s projects

WALK THE LINE, Reese Witherspoon, 2005. © 20th Century Fox/courtesy Everett Collection

WALK THE LINE, Reese Witherspoon, 2005. © 20th Century Fox/courtesy Everett Collection

To the Oscar-winning actress – won in 2005 with Walk the line-When love burns the soul – equal rights is above all at heart, and in recent years – with the revitalization of the various feminist and inclusion movements – she found more favorable ground to promote her projects for women. The television series he produced, big little lies, The morning show, Small fires everywhere, met with critical and public support and fueled discussions about the dynamics of male-female relationships, parent-child relationships, social status and domestic violence. It is also for this reason that the actress made her experience public for the first time, when, at sixteen, she was sexually harassed by a director (she never revealed her name), and later suffered other similar incidents that caused her anxiety attacks and insomnia. “I wanted and had to create a company that would help women, make films for them and have them as protagonists“. Immediately after, an additional step: “I wanted to open up to women of color and the LGBTQ community, and so I created a new society for the stories of those who feel unrepresented, for those whose stories have never been on screen. So I had to work hard, believe me”.

Reese Witherspoon in Big Little Lies

The cast of Big Little Lies

A career that began at the age of 7

Reese has worked since she was a child. She started acting at age seven, at age 15 she was the protagonist of The straight man from the moon by Robert Mulligan, the director of The darkness beyond the hedge. In the meantime it’s ok at school, she always has excellent grades, and it is no coincidence that she is nicknamed “Little Miss Type A”, Miss 10 with honors. In 1995, she was accepted at Stanford, but after the first year, she decided to return to Los Angeles to devote herself full-time to cinema. Cruel Intentions – First Rule Don’t Fall In Love (on the set meets Ryan Philippe, they get married, have two children and divorce a few years later) Witherspoon is the star of ElectionAlexander Payne’s cult film. It was the film that launched her: the blonde, ambitious and all-smiling girl has extraordinary energy, vitality and stubbornness.. But while she’s no longer being offered lead roles, she actually reminisces that to convince producers to consider her for the role of the bubbly Elle Woods of Revenge of the Blondesthe heroine in shocking pink with the Chihuahua, he went through dozens of auditions and meetings, showing a strong Californian accent.

LEGALLY BLONDE, Reese Witherspoon, Bruiser, 2001, photo: (c) MGM/courtesy Everett Collection

Reese Witherspoon and Cabe Bruiser in Legally Blonde 2001, photo: (c) MGM / courtesy Everett Collection

It’s part of the process, they identify you with the character you play, and I was still and always the Tracy of Election: each time I had to try to convince them to be an actress and to know how to act”. In short, despite the success at the box office (Revenge of the Blondes harvesting 142 million, a record for a “feminine” comedy) and an Oscar, for her nothing really seemed to change. From this frustration comes the decision to circle the Hollywood cage to choose and decide on the roles and films that interest him.. The actress-producer here quotes the infamous Time magazine cover from 2015 in which enterprising actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and Blake Lively are mentioned, along with her, “Hollywood’s New Domestic Divas(Hollywood’s new domestic, hence housewife, divas), and represented by cartoonish images with aprons, donuts and cooking utensils in their hands. Reese still talks about it today with dismay, almost in disbelief. Times have therefore – you know – changed, and the prestigious American weekly had to apologize for this sexist comment and this lack of good taste. Time even dedicated the cover of May 17, 2021 to Witherspoon with the beautiful title: “Hello Sunshine – 100 Most Influential Companies“(The 100 most important companies, with Reese’s company in the lead). In this shoot, the 45-year-old businesswoman is photographed in a director’s chair on a film set. Other than forks and stoves. This cover then followed Forbes magazine which recently named her one of the 100 most powerful women in the worldas well as 40 CEOs and 19 political leaders (number one is philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Jeff Bezos).

THE MAN IN THE MOON, US from left: Jason London, Reese Witherspoon, 1991.

Reese Witherspoon at 15, with Jason London in his first film, Man in the Moon (1991). Phone. : Elliott Marks / © MGM / Courtesy of Everett Collection

The series set in Sicily

Today, Witherspoon has a dozen projects in development. Among them there is also the series from zerowith Zoe Saldana and Eugenio Mastrandreathe love story between an African-American woman from Texas and a Sicilian writer based on Tembi Locke’s bestseller. “It’s a great love story without borders, audiences are sure to love it.” Tireless, he also manages to take care of his family: remarried to talent agent Jim Toth is the proud mother of three boys.

A few weeks ago we met for the advertising campaign for the animated film Sing 2, with hundreds of journalists packed into the Greek restaurant in Los Angeles. It was pouring rain, the wi-fi came and went, everyone was on edge except her who projected calm and authority. In the film – which has already surpassed $215 million at the box office – Witherspoon voices piglet Rosita, mother of 25 piglets, who dreams of becoming a singer.

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Reese Witherspoon at the cast of Sing 2

The cast of Sing 2

“The point is this: Rosita as a mother has an endless range of feelings, let’s never forget that mothers are people! Rosita is there to remind us that we women have an intense life… The metaphor is clear, isn’t it? Here, you have to believe in yourself, dare and throw yourself into the void, just like her! “.

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